Netflix has now provided insight into how it performed during Q4 2018 as well as last year as a whole, while at the same time taking a moment to point out how competing services like HBO and Hulu are not actually competition.
In terms of the numbers, Netflix confirmed it added 8.8 million paid members in Q4, 2018. This breaks down as 1.5 million in the US and 7.3 million elsewhere. At the annual level, Netflix says it added 29 million throughout 2018 and that compares to the 22 million the company added in 2017.
By the close of 2018 business, Netflix says it had 139 million paying subscribers, globally.
In reality, the results are a little mixed as in spite of the better than expected subscriber additions (both domestically and internationally), Netflix posted $4.19 billion in revenue - slightly less than what had been previously expected.
From Netflix’s perspective, however, these figures represent big and healthy subscriber gains that highlight how Netflix has grown over the past year. In addition to highlighting what its competition has to deal with now and in 2019. On that note, Netflix took a minute to point out that Hulu is far from being its competition.
Netflix came to this conclusion by pointing out that although Hulu offers some rivalry in the US, it doesn’t in other territories. In particular, in Canada, Netflix says Hulu is “non-existent” compared to Netflix whose penetration in both markers is “pretty similar.”
The streaming service also noted that during the temporary blackout YouTube experienced, Netflix saw its “viewing and signups” spike - even though the blackout only lasted a few minutes. Again, Netflix took this opportunity to point out that “Hulu is small compared to YouTube” without drawing on any similar size comparisons between itself and the Google-owned streaming service.
As for HBO, the service many might consider to be a true competitor based on users and price, Netflix spent very little time mentioning the other service in the “Competition” segment of the quarterly report, other than saying that “we compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.”
Netflix also took the opportunity to point out how popular its “Originals” shows and movies have become. This is not only in viewing figures (for example, Netflix says more than 80 million member households viewed Bird Box in its first four weeks), but also as a springboard for launching new talent. Drawing on how its content has gained massive social media attention and noting that since the launch of its Elite show, the stars have moved from thousands of Instagram followers to millions.
Expanding on this point, Netflix hinted that consumers are likely to continue to see more Original content coming through in the future and at the expense of second-run content. With Netflix stating it is now in a better position to pay higher rates for content from other networks and studios, but is preparing for the situation where those providers keep their content for their own services.
Regardless of whether other networks want to sell or license their content to the streaming service, Netflix made it clear that it’s “becoming less focused on 2nd run programming” going forward.
All of this comes on the back of a recent price hike by the company. As earlier in the week Netflix confirmed it was raising the cost of a subscription for all customers in the US.
During the latest announcement, Netflix confirmed the price rise is already in effect for new customers and will take effect for existing customers during the first half of 2019.
Whether a new or existing customer, the 2019 price for the “Basic” plan will be $8.99 per month. A majority of Netflix customers are believed to be on the “Standard” plan and their 2019 price is now $12.99 per month. Those opting for the “Premium” plan (with 4K support and more same-time streams) can expect to pay $15.99 per month in 2019.