Netflix adds a whopping 16 million subscribers worldwide as coronavirus keeps people home

The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread in mid-March, Netflix’s stock price sat at $299, its lowest number since December.

In the month since, with most Americans at home, the share price has rocketed up 46%, hitting an all-time high last week of $447.

On Tuesday, Netflix validated that investor optimism: the company says it added nearly 16 million subscribers worldwide in the past three months.

The number – 15.8 million, to be precise – is double what most Wall Street analysts had expected and is by far the biggest quarterly add since Netflix became a mature business several years ago, suggesting that people stuck at home around the world by coronavirus fears are signing up for the service at a record pace.

The number easily tops the previous quarterly high – 9.6 million, which it added in the comparable quarter a year ago.

The figure came as part of a first-quarter earnings report released Tuesday. Netflix boasted big adds during the quarter that included the March quarantines in the U.S. and many European countries. In January, before the virus had spread worldwide, Netflix had predicted the addition of about seven million new global subscribers.

“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. Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth,” the company said in an investor letter.

But it also cautioned that it would take a hit to international revenue because of the stronger dollar. Earnings per share came in at $1.57, lower than Wall Street expectations of $1.65. Revenue was consistent with expectations at $5.77 billion

And the results only measure numbers through March, before the economic impact of the virus, both in the U.S., had really begun to unfold, as many experts believe it will in the coming months.

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