Netflix on Tuesday became the first major company in the tech sector to release its fourth quarter earnings for 2020, and the streaming giant said that it added 8.5 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, bringing it over the 200 million subscriber mark worldwide.
For the fourth quarter, Netflix posted revenue of $6.64 billion, up from $5.4 billion in the same period the year before, as the company announced a price hike late last year. The numbers were slightly less than analyst expectations, per CNBC, although the company beat its own forecast.
“2020 was an incredibly difficult year with extraordinary loss for so many families, new restrictions that none of us have ever had to live with before and great uncertainty. We’re enormously grateful that in these uniquely challenging times we’ve been able to provide our members around the world with a source of escape, connection and joy while continuing to build our business,” the company wrote in its investor’s letter.
For the full year of 2020, Netflix added thirty-seven million subscribers, and made $25 billion in annual revenue, and operating profit for the year was $4.6 billion, a 76 percent increase over the year before.
Netflix, in the investor letter, talked about what was the most popular programming of the quarter. The most recent season of “The Crown,“ the company said, drew more viewership than any of the three previous seasons in its first 28 days, while “Bridgerton,” the first Netflix show from well-known producer Shonda Rhimes, is also “immensely popular.” Netflix promised “some exciting news” about the show later in the week, which presumably means a renewal for future seasons.
Netflix said that “The Midnight Sky,” a movie starring and directed by George Clooney, was its most popular film in the fourth quarter, and that it also had a great deal of success with its holiday films. And the company touted that many of its hits have “become part of the cultural zeitgeist,” noting that the popularity of “The Queen’s Gambit” led to a rise in sales of chess sets.
The company also acknowledged that competition is getting heavier.
“It’s a great time to be a consumer of entertainment. There are a wealth of options ranging from linear TV to video gaming to user generated content on YouTube and TikTok,” the company said in its letter. “We continue to work hard to grow our small share of screen time against these major competitors. Discovery recently launched its streaming service. Disney+ is expanding in new countries and with more content. ViacomCBS will be unveiling its plans for Paramount+ in 2021. Combined with the launch of AppleTV+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming services, this signifies that these companies all recognize the future is streaming entertainment, a vision we have been working towards since inception.”
Netflix reiterated that its goal is to “continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.