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Netflix Subscriber Base And Revenue Spike in Q1


The storyline is playing out nicely for Netflix.

The streaming company reported its latest earnings on Thursday (April 18), with Wall Street keeping a close eye on expected revenue and subscriber growth resulting from its recent password-sharing crackdown.

But no one expected the dramatic results it delivered: Netflix ended the first quarter with 269.6 million paying customers globally for an audience of more than a half billion people. Operating income, from subscriber fees as well as its burgeoning ad business, spiked 54%.

By the numbers, Netflix experienced a substantial 15% year-over-year increase in revenue, 18% above Q4, driven by both membership growth and price hikes. The company’s operating income reached $2.6 billion, surpassing internal forecasts.

This surge in operating income was attributed to higher-than-anticipated revenue and what the company called “efficient content spending strategies.” Additionally, Netflix’s operating margin expanded significantly to 28%, marking a notable seven-percentage-point increase compared to the previous year.

Subscriber growth remains a key driver of Netflix’s success, with paid net additions far surpassing expectations in Q1. The company reported 9.3 million paid net additions, a substantial increase compared to the 1.8 million forecasted. This surge in subscriber growth underscores the continued appeal of Netflix’s content offerings and its ability to attract and retain a global audience.

The company’s shareholder letter and comments on its Q&A-only earnings call saw its executives prioritizing engagement as a key metric for customer satisfaction and business growth.

The company’s strategic focus includes scaling its membership base, enhancing advertiser capabilities, and diversifying revenue streams. Case in point: Netflix witnessed a substantial increase in ads membership, signaling promising growth opportunities in this segment.

Additionally, the company is actively investing in measurement solutions and forging strategic partnerships to enhance its advertising offerings. 

“Our two priorities in ads are to scale our member base and to build out our capabilities for advertisers,” the shareholder letter read. “We made progress on both fronts in Q1. Our ads membership grew 65% quarter on quarter (after rising nearly 70% sequentially in each of Q3’23 and Q4’23) with over 40% of all signups in our ads markets coming from our ads plan.

“For advertisers, we continue to focus on measurement solutions, including new partnerships with (agencies) Kantar and Lucid for brand awareness and recall, and Nielsen Catalina Solutions for sales lift and we’re working to build out our sales capabilities,” the letter continued.

Take a good look at those subscriber figures, because they won’t be around for long. The company announced it would cease reporting quarterly membership numbers and ARM (Average Revenue per Membership) starting from its Q1’25 earnings release.

According to CEO Greg Peters, the decision reflects a shift in focus from solely measuring membership growth to a broader emphasis on revenue, operating margin and engagement as primary financial metrics.

The letter explained that while membership growth was once a strong indicator of future potential, Netflix’s evolving business model, including multiple tiers of pricing and plans across different countries, necessitated a more nuanced approach to performance measurement.

Instead, Netflix will continue providing revenue breakdowns by region and highlight FX impacts alongside its financials, offering investors a comprehensive view of the company’s performance and growth trajectory.