Netflix added 26 million subscribers in the first half of 2020, compared to 12 million in the same period the previous year. Second quarter subscriber growth of 10.09 million was lower than the 15.77 million in the first previous quarter but beat its forecast of 7.50 million and was the highest ever for the second quarter. Netflix now has 192.95 million paid subscribers globally, up by 27.3% year on year, and is heading for 200 million. Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of the company, has been appointed co-chief executive with Reed Hastings.

There were 2.94 million additional subscribers in the United States and Canada in the second quarter, on top of 2.31 million in the first quarter, taking its total in those markets to 72.90 million.

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, subscribers grew by 2.75 million, compared to 6.96 million the previous quarter, with a total of 61.48 million.

The Asia Pacific region saw growth of 2.66 million, down from 3.60 million the previous quarter, while Latin America was up 1.75 million, compared to 2.90 million.

Netflix Paid Streaming Subscriptions 2018-2020 Q2. Source: informitv Multiscreen Index, company reports

The company expects growth to slow, after the initial shock of coronavirus restrictions. It forecasts 2.5m more subscribers in the third quarter, compared to a gain of 6.8 million in the same quarter the previous year.

That seems like a conservative estimate. Based on current growth, we can expect Netflix to exceed 200 million subscribers in 2020.

Netflix believes there is still plenty of room for growth, telling investors: “We continue to view the quarter-to-quarter fluctuations in paid net adds as not that meaningful in the context of the long run adoption of internet entertainment which we believe provides us with many years of strong growth ahead.”

Having introduced a policy of not billing subscribers that have not watched anything for two years. That affected a “small percentage of members”. “While this change resulted in a slight hit to revenue, we believe that pro-consumer policies like this are the right thing to do and that the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term costs,” the company said. “In a world where consumers have many subscriptions, auto-pause on billing after an extended period of non-use should be how leading services operate.

Facing increasing competition from major media companies, Netflix remains confident of its prospects. “Instead of worrying about all these competitors, we continue to stick to our strategy of trying to improve our service and content every quarter faster than our peers,” it said. “Our continued strong growth is a testament to this approach and the size of the entertainment market.”

Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix, has been promoted to co-chief executive, while Greg Peters has been appointed chief operating officer in addition to chief product officer.

Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix, now sharing the role of chief executive, emphasised that did not reflect any reduction in his role. “I’m in for a decade,” he said. ”As Co-CEO, it’s 2 of us full time. It’s not like a part-time deal. So it’s definitely broadening the management team and helping us grow even faster over the next 10 years.”