Expects to break even in 2021

Netflix has crossed 200m global subscribers, the streaming platform said in a letter to shareholders announcing fourth quarter results on Tuesday (January 19).

The company said it expected to break even this year and be cash flow-positive going forward.

The platform added 8.5m paid net additions to membership in the last three months, exceeding the 6m forecast, to reach 203.7m.

Key content drivers were George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky, animation Over The Moon, children’s adventure We Can Be Heroes, as well as season four of The Crown, Shonda Rhime’s new show Bridgerton, German historical series Barbarians, and South Korea horror show Sweet Home.

Among the early 2021 hits is French-language heist series Lupin starring Omar Sy.

The fourth quarter capped off an extraordinary annual haul of 37m new members, powered by a boom in the first half of 2020 due to the stay-at-home impact of the pandemic.

Netflix reported annual revenue of $25bn – a 24% year-on-year rise – and grew operating profit by 76% to $4.6bn.

The company said its productions were ”back up and running in most regions”, adding that there were more than 500 titles in post-production or preparing to launch on the service.

Last week Netflix announced its 2021 roster so far and said it will release one new original film a week for the rest of the year.

Acknowledging the growing competition with services like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock, not to mention upcoming services like Paramount+, which is set to launch in the US on 4 March, Netflix struck an upbeat note.

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” the letter read.

“This past year is a testament to this approach. Disney+ had a massive first year (87 million paid subscribers!) and we recorded the biggest year of paid membership growth in our history.”

Reporting an $8.2bn cash balance and $750m undrawn credit facility, Netflix no longer expects to raise external financing for day-to-day operations.

It intends to maintain $10bn-$15bn in gross debt and will explore returning cash to shareholders through stock buybacks.

  • This story first appeared on Screen Daily