Netflix added 21.55 million paid subscribers in 2017, including 6.62 million gained in the last quarter, ahead of its own forecasts, despite a price increase. That pushed the quoted value of the company over $100 billion.
Netflix ended 2017 with 110.64 million paid subscribers in total, of which 52.81 million were in the United States. Five years ago Netflix said its market in the United States would reach between 60 and 90 million, so it believes it still has room for growth there.
Paid subscriptions were up by 1.47 million in the United States in the last quarter of 2017. Netflix added 5.16 million paid subscribers elsewhere, a new quarterly record.
International customers produced the first full year of positive contribution profit, albeit a margin of only 4.5%.
Total revenues for 2017 were $11.69 billion, with net income of $0.56 billion. However it expects a negative cash flow of $3 billion to $4 billion in 2018, up from around $2 billion in 2017.
Netflix says it now plans to spend up to $8 billion on programming and $1.3 billion on technology and development in 2018.
The market capitalization of Netflix passed $100 billion on the news of increased subscriber growth.
Netflix has certainly done well in twelve months, but has its value fundamentally increased by 80% in a year? Investors seem confident that it can do no wrong and have been rewarded accordingly.
For comparison, The Walt Disney Co is worth about $170 billion. Amazon is worth about $675 billion. Apple has a market capitalization of around $880 billion.
Noting formidable competition from such companies, Netflix said the market for entertainment time is vase and can support many successful services.
The company also claims to be untroubled by companies like Disney preferring their own services rather than licensing programming to Netflix. It says it has long anticipated this and that is why it moved into original productions.
“The big bet they have to make,” commented Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix, is “can they make more money licensing their content to us or somebody else than by having their own services?” He said “That remains to be seen.”
“Fundamentally, if we can monetize content really well, then people will sell to us because we can pay them,” added Reed Hastings, the founder and chief executive. ”And that’s ultimately the core economic driver.”
However, he conceded, “Disney, with its strength of brand and unique content, will have some real success. And I know I’ll be a subscriber of it for my own personal watching.”
Seeing Disney as a competitor to Netflix may seem flattering. The question is whether companies like Disney will be able to beat Netflix at its own game.