Netflix ended 2018 on a high note, exceeding its own subscriber-addition estimates by 1 million and predicting even stronger growth for the first quarter. That eased some concerns about the looming threat of new competition, particularly from The Walt Disney Co.’s highly anticipated Disney+ later this year.
The streaming platform added 8.8 million global paid memberships in Q4 — beating its own earlier estimate of 7.6 million additions — and erasing any immediate fears that the SVOD pioneer had lost its mojo. In a letter to shareholders Jan. 17, Netflix predicted it would add 8.9 million paid memberships in Q1, pushing its total subscribers to more than 148 million.
While Netflix is confident it will hit those numbers, a recent price increase, between 13% and 18% across the board, could be a roadblock. But chief product officer Greg Peters said on Netflix’s Q4 video interview the price increase is in keeping with the overall model — investing the money its subscribers give them to provide the high-quality content they desire.
Netflix invested about $12.1 billion in original content in 2018, by some estimates, and is expected to pony up another $14.7 billion in 2019, so the price hike was welcomed by Wall Street.
In a research note, Sanford Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger wrote that a huge part of Netflix’s appeal is its ability to continue to offer compelling content on an almost weekly basis, fueling constant anticipation about what’s coming next.
“At the risk of declaring ‘Mission Accomplished’ and regretting it later, it seems to us Netflix is building a pretty compelling body of evidence that they have gotten to that point, and also seem highly likely to sustain it,” Juenger wrote.