Netflix Subscribers Jump Despite Price Hikes

(AFP) — Netflix added 13 million subscribers in the final three months of last year, the company said on Tuesday, despite price hikes at the leading streaming service.

Netflix finished 2023 with slightly more than 260 million subscribers worldwide, with a profit of $938 million in the final quarter versus just $55 million in the same period a year earlier.

“We believe there is plenty of room for growth ahead as streaming expands,” the US company said in an earnings letter.

Netflix shares were up more than eight per cent to $532.75 in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings figures.

“Netflix sticks out as the clear front runner in the streaming wars,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Ross Benes.

The streaming pioneer said that despite last year’s strikes by Hollywood actors and writers, the company has a “big, bold” slate of content for release this year.

The company touted coming content including a sequel to the hit Squid Game series out of South Korea and a brand new “3 Body Problem” show based on a bestselling novel by the same name.

“Choice and control are the price of entry in modern entertainment, and that is streaming,” Netflix said in the letter.

“It’s what consumers want, and we believe it’s the best way for our industry to stay relevant and growing.”

The earnings news came the same day that Netflix sealed a long-term broadcast deal with the WWE professional wrestling juggernaut, as it pushes further into sporting events.

Beginning in the United States in 2025, Netflix will become the exclusive new home of “Raw,” the WWE’s flagship program that has been broadcasting on television since 1993.

The agreement will also see WWE shows and live events streamed across the globe as their rights become available.

With an initial 10-year term for $5 billion, the deal has an option for Netflix to extend the deal for an additional 10 years or opt out after the initial five years.

“We expect our industry to remain highly competitive,” Netflix said, citing heavy investment by rivals like Amazon, Apple, and YouTube.

“It’s why continuing to improve our entertainment offering is so important.”

Netflix late last year increased the price of its basic plan in the United States to $11.99 monthly and its premium plan to $22.99, with similar price increases seen in Britain and France.

After a period of rocky earnings, earlier in 2022, the Silicon Valley giant expanded its crackdown on users sharing passwords with people beyond their immediate family.

In a separate bid for revenue, Netflix launched an ad-subsidised offering around the same time as the crackdown.

The ad-supported tier is priced at $7 monthly and is growing fast, but has yet to become a main driver of overall revenue, according to Netflix.

As the ad-tiers gain momentum, the company said on Tuesday that it would retire the lowest cost ad-free plan, starting with Canada and the UK in the second quarter of this year.

The company said earlier this month it has 23 million subscribers using the ad-supported tier, which accounts for 40 per cent of new sign-ups.

Netflix co-chief executive Greg Peters said during an earnings call that the company is continuing to expand its lineup of more than 80 mobile games that subscribers can play, having recently added the blockbuster “Grand Theft Auto.”

“We’re stoked by the performance of GTA,” said Peters, noting that the Netflix mobile game exceeded even the company’s high hopes for it.