While no one in their right mind would wish for a global health emergency/economic crisis, it’s hard to make a list of companies that might profit from the current situation and not have Netflix on that list. A global crisis that forces people to stay home for weeks? Movie theaters, bars, restaurants, and gyms shuttered? No live sports on TV? What else are people supposed to do but cuddle up and watch Tiger King?
Netflix’s latest quarterly results seem to confirm that notion, as the streaming giant added more paid subscribers over the past three months than ever before in its history. Nearly 16 million people signed up for the service in the first quarter, more than double Netflix’s own guidance, which was given before the crisis hit in January. As of March 31, the company had 182.9 million paid streaming subscribers globally and it expects to reach 190 million by the end of June.
Considering the tragic circumstances under which the record subscriber growth was achieved, Netflix was sensible enough not to gloat about it. Instead the company struck a pensive tone in its letter to shareholders while also acknowledging its fortunate role in this particular crisis. “We have never seen a future more uncertain or unsettling,” the letter reads. “The coronavirus has reached every corner of the world and, in the absence of a widespread treatment or vaccine, no one knows how or when this terrible crisis will end. At Netflix, we’re acutely aware that we are fortunate to have a service that is even more meaningful to people confined at home, and which we can operate remotely with minimal disruption in the short to medium term.”