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Netflix's 1H 2020 sub gains nearly equal to gains for all of 2019

Netflix raked in another 10.1 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2020, stomping its forecast of 7.5 million net adds, and extending its worldwide paid base to 192.95 million.

The record of 10.1 million new subs in Q2, spurred by a pandemic that has caused people around the globe to stay home, compares to adds of just 2.7 million in the year-ago period. That continued a growth surge that Netflix saw in Q1 as stay-at-home orders started to take hold in some markets around the globe.

Netflix's sub base got another big boost in Q2 during a pandemic that caused consumers to stay at home.
Netflix's sub base got another big boost in Q2 during a pandemic that caused consumers to stay at home.

"In the first half of this year, we've added 26m paid memberships, nearly on par with the 28m we achieved in all of 2019," Netflix explained in this investor letter (PDF).

The 26 million paid net adds in the first half of 2020 compares to 12 million in the comparable period in 2019. However, Netflix expects sub growth to slow in the second half of the year and not come near the sub signups it saw in the second half of 2019.

For Q3 2020, Netflix forecasts it will add 2.5 million subs worldwide (compared to 6.8 million adds in Q3 2019) and expand its aggregate paid base to 195.45 million.

(Source: Netflix)
(Source: Netflix)

"[G]rowth is slowing as consumers get through the initial shock of Covid and social restrictions," Netflix said, noting that the subscriber strength seen in Q3 2019 was aided by new seasons of both Stranger Things and La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist).

As Netflix relies heavily on a constant flow of originals, the company noted that its "main business priority is to restart our productions safely and in a manner consistent with local health and safety standards to ensure that our members can enjoy a diverse range of high quality new content."

But given the variances between countries in terms of new COVID-19 cases, availability of testing and government and industry regulations, Netflix also stressed that "there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and we're adapting to local circumstances."

Netflix's Q2 2020 revenues of $6.15 billion were up 24.9% year-on-year, beating a forecast of $6.04 billion.

Netflix also announced that Ted Sarandos, the company's chief content officer, has been appointed co-CEO and elected to the board of directors. Sarandos will continue as chief content officer. Greg Peters, Netflix's chief product officer, has added the role of COO.

Expectations of a slower second half of 2020 caused Netflix shares to drop $60.19 (11.41%) to $467.20 each in after-hours trading Thursday.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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