Netflix Adds 15.8 Million Subscribers In First Quarter

Streaming service Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) added a record number of new subscribers in the first quarter as people were shut in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix reported that it added 15.8 million paid subscribers during the first three months of the year, almost double the 8.47 million forecast by Wall Street analysts. The company also clobbered its own forecast of seven million new subscribers, with droves of new customers binge-watching programs such as “Tiger King” during the quarantine.

The question now is how long the boom will last. Netflix only expects 7.5 million new subscribers in the second quarter, and investors are taking a cautious view. Though the results initially sent Netflix shares up as much as 12% in after-hours trading Tuesday, the stock settled down to a gain of less than 2% in pre-market trading Wednesday.

While coronavirus has been devastating to the global economy, video-streaming services such as Netflix have found themselves with a captive audience. The new Disney+ service surpassed 50 million subscribers in just five months, a faster pace than predicted as well.

Growth in the U.S. and Canada picked up after a few sluggish quarters. Netflix added 2.31 million customers in the North American region, its biggest market. That was more than it added in the prior three quarters combined.

Before its earnings release, Netflix investors had sent shares to record highs, making it especially hard for the company to sustain the rally — even with blockbuster subscriber numbers. The shares had climbed 34% through Tuesday’s close, compared with a 15% decline for the S&P 500.