Netflix adds 9.6 million subscribers in first quarter as competition heats up


Netflix doesn't seem anxious at all that Apple and Disney are launching their own competitive streaming services by the end of 2019.

Shares of Netflix traded down about 1 percent at $355.02 in after-the-bell trading.

Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber gains in the history of its video streaming service, but forecast a springtime slowdown that disappointed investors. And it's hard to see why someone who was on the fence about either service or who could only afford one of these new services would ever pick Apple TV+ over Disney+. The majority of new subscribers came from outside the USA.

Total revenue rose to US$4.52-billion from US$3.7-billion. Its streaming service has grown at the same time that competitors HBO and Showtime have added customers.

In the service's first year, audiences will also have access to family-friendly Fox titles like The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride and Malcolm in the Middle as part of an impressive collection of more than 7,500 television episodes and 500 films including blockbuster hits from 2019 and beyond. Both companies unveiled their streaming plans recently, touting lineups of exclusive content that they hope will rival what Netflix offers.

Netflix said it is "excited to compete" with its new rivals, adding: "We don't anticipate that these new entrants will materially affect our growth". "We believe well all continue to grow as we each invest more in content and improve our service and as consumers continue to migrate away from linear viewing (similar to how USA cable networks collectively grew for years as viewing shifted from broadcast networks during the 1980s and 1990s)", said Netflix.

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Netflix is just out with its earnings results covering the first three months of the year, and a key highlight of the companion shareholder letter the streaming giant released tries to make the case that everything is fine.

The service will also be the exclusive home to 30 seasons of "The Simpsons" - TV's longest running prime time scripted series. To that end, BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon expects Netflix to spend $15 billion on original content this year versus say, Disney+, which plans on spending $1 billion annually on content over the next year and raise that spend to "mid $2 billion" by 2024.

"We believe Netflix can not win" such a war because of Disney's cost advantage from owning a vast amount of content.

Getting new subscribers in India: Netflix said a lower price tier will be important to adding members in India, although its not positive that a mobile-only lower price tier model is the right one for India. "We do not view Disney as the competition", he said in his note.

AT&T's WarnerMedia, which is CNN's parent company, and NBCUniversal, are both also launching services this year.