Netflix adds more subscribers in first quarter, shares rise

Small toy figures are seen in front of diplayed Netflix logo in this illustration taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) on Tuesday reported more paid subscribers than expected in the first quarter, as global lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus forced people to stay at home and watch shows online including its wildly popular “Tiger King.”

Shares of the streaming giant, which have surged about 35% this year, were up 4% in trading after the bell.

Demand for streaming services surged in recent months as the fast spreading virus, which has infected more than 2.5 million people globally, restricted movement.

Some analysts, however, believed that subscriptions of streaming services would be among the first household discretionary items to be cut by people amid a wave of layoffs and fears of an economic recession because of the pandemic.

But Netflix said it expects to add 7.50 million paid subscribers globally in the second quarter compared with analysts’ estimates of 3.81 million, according to research firm FactSet.

The company added 15.77 million paid subscribers globally during the first quarter – well above analysts’ estimates of nearly 8 million, according to research firm FactSet.

Netflix, which helped create the binge-watching category, said it added 2.31 million paid subscribers in the United States and Canada.

It added 3.60 million subscribers in Asia-Pacific, its fastest-growing region while its Latin American subscribers grew by 2.90 million subscribers in the quarter.

Total revenue rose to $5.77 billion from $4.52 billion. Analysts on average had expected $5.76 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernard Orr

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