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 year than ever before in its history. Almost 16 million people signed up for the service in the first quarter alone, with another 10 million subscribers added by the end of June. Following an expected slowdown in Q3, user growth re-accelerated in the last three months of 2020, bringing Netflix's global paid memberships to 203.7 million, up 36.6 million since the end of 2019.
Considering the 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 a letter to shareholders. "We live in uncertain times with restrictions on what we can do socially and many people are turning to entertainment for relaxation, connection, comfort and stimulation," the letter reads, after the company had already acknowledged its fortunate position in a similar letter published in April. "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," the company had said back then.