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Netflix added more than seven million subscribers during Q1, and its shares are climbing — again

Reed Hastings and company beat expectations. Wall Street is getting used to this.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stands in front of a sign that reads “Netflix.”
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings 
Ethan Miller / Getty
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.

Netflix stock is climbing again after the streaming company beat expectations by adding 7.41 million subscribers during Q1. Netflix had told Wall Street it thought it would add 6.35 million in the quarter.

The company now boasts 125 million subscribers worldwide.

Netflix had told investors it thought it would add 1.45 million domestic subs in Q1 and another 4.9 million outside the U.S. Instead it added 1.96 million and 5.46 million.

Netflix told investors that it would add 1.2 million domestic subs in Q2 and another five million outside the U.S.; per RBC analyst Mark Mahaney, Wall Street had expected to see guidance of 974,000 and 4.2 million, respectively.

Netflix shares, which have already climbed 60 percent this year, are up another 6 percent in after-hours trading.

In the past, the quarterly shareholder letter Netflix puts out would have lots of interesting ideas and numbers. This one seems more straightforward: Netflix is growing, fast — its Q1 revenue grew 43 percent, the fastest rate the company has seen since it moved into streaming — and it thinks that is going to keep growing fast.

CEO Reed Hastings uses his letter to note that Netflix has many popular TV shows (no viewership numbers to quantify that, per usual) and also notes that they are continuing to expand into movies, with a special plug for “The Cloverfield Paradox,” the sci-fi movie they debuted right after the Super Bowl.

More about movies: Hastings has a brief aside about the Cannes film festival, which has had an escalating feud with Netflix over the company’s streaming strategy. Short version: No more Cannes for Netflix, for now. “We will continue to celebrate our films and filmmakers at other festivals around the world but unfortunately we will have to sit out Cannes for now so that our growing French membership can continue to enjoy our original films.”

In the past, Netflix has used this update to provide insight into the way it views competitors like Amazon, or the traditional TV networks and movie studios. Nothing this time around.

On the other hand, we have a good sense of the way Big Media thinks about Netflix: It is terrified that it can’t keep up with Netflix’s scale and aggressive spending. Just ask Disney, Fox, Time Warner, and many others.

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