clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Netflix Subscriber Numbers Soar, and Its Stock Price Does the Same

Reed Hastings added 4.9 million new streamers in Q1.

Asa Mathat
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

A first look at Q1 Netflix earnings: The streaming video company earned 38 cents per share on revenue of $1.57 billion. Analysts were expecting 69 cents and $1.57 billion. But Netflix says that its earnings numbers were affected by a foreign exchange loss, and that if you factor that out its earnings would have been 77 cents a share.

The market buys it, apparently: Shares are up 12 percent after hours.

Even more important are Netflix’s subscriber numbers. It ended Q1 with 41.4 million subscribers in the U.S. and 20.88 million in the rest of the world. The company had told investors it was aiming for 40.91 million and 20.53 million, respectively — meaning they were expecting to add around four million subscribers in the last three months. Instead, they added 4.9 million. Another reason for the market to cheer.

While CEO Reed Hastings’ quarterly shareholder letters are usually packed with interesting nuggets, this one is a little light in that regard.

Not surprisingly, Hastings says that HBO’s new HBO Now service, widely thought to be the pay channel’s response to Netflix, is a complement to his service, not a killer. “We think both will continue to be successful in the marketplace, as illustrated by the fact that HBO has continued to grow globally and domestically as we have rapidly grown over the past 5 years.”

And Hastings says about the same thing about Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s Vue and the “skinny bundle” of Web TV that Apple is trying to put together: Those may be a problem for traditional TV, but not him, he says. That’s because “Netflix … is lower cost, has exclusive and original content, and is not focused on live television.”

Okay, how about something semi-surprising? Maybe this: The service’s third season of “House of Cards,” which has disappointed many critics, “had its biggest launch yet in terms of viewers,” Hasting reports. Then again, Netflix is much bigger than it was a year ago, when the show last appeared. So not really so surprising, after all.

One last non-surprise: Netflix will move more of its marketing money online. “This allows us to more finely target audiences and to deliver the right marketing message to the right person at the right time, particularly on mobile devices.” It would have been shocking if he had said anything else.

As always, here is RBC analyst Mark Mahaney’s helpful cheat sheet, so you can play along at home:

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.