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Netflix grew bigger even amid competition from Baby Yoda

Netflix grew bigger even amid competition from Baby Yoda


Netflix added more subscribers last quarter than expected

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Even with the high-profile launches of Disney+ and Apple TV Plus last fall, Netflix added more subscribers than expected in the last three months of 2019. Its Q4 results released today show the company continued to grow, even as an avalanche of new streaming services approach and competitors start to release hit series.

According to Netflix, membership grew “both globally and in the US on a year over year basis.” Netflix reports that it now has more than 167 million paid subscribers and that it added about 8.8 million subscribers over the previous three months. That was about the same amount of subscribers Netflix added in Q4 2018, and a good amount ahead of the 7.6 million subscribers the company was forecasting.

However, the company acknowledged that its price increases announced last January and launches of other streaming services may have affected growth in the US and Canada, where it added only 550,000 subscribers. That’s down from the 610,000 subscribers it added in the third quarter of 2019 and down from the 1.75 million subscribers added in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Competing services may have affected US subscriber growth

Netflix is also forecasting that in the first quarter of 2020, it will add 7 million subscribers, which will be considerably less than the 9.6 million subscribers it added in the first quarter of 2019. The company says this is due to “slightly elevated churn levels we are seeing in the US.”

Since the Baby Yoda-fueled juggernaut that is Disney+ is only available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and The Netherlands, it’s not entirely surprising that it hasn’t had a massive effect on Netflix’s subscriber growth so far. And Disney+ won’t hit the UK and other markets in Western Europe until March 24th, or Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal until later in summer 2020.

Apple TV Plus has more reach than Disney+, as it’s available in more than 100 countries, but it hasn’t quite had a smash hit like Disney’s The Mandalorian. And other competitors are still a ways out — HBO Max won’t launch until May 2020, while NBC’s Peacock isn’t launching until July 15th, for example. And none of the competing services have Netflix’s 190-country footprint just yet, so it may still be a while before we see if any of them can really take subscribers away from Netflix in the long term.

In today’s earnings, Netflix also shared some figures about its content, including that 76 million households have watched at least two minutes of The Witcher.