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Record Intl. Growth Sees Netflix Beat Q4 Earnings Forecast

Christopher Vourlias

Fast growth in international markets, contrasting with only sluggish subscriber gains in North America, was a major factor behind streaming giant Netflix’s better than forecast growth in the last quarter of 2019. The company is set on keeping up that international momentum.

Globally Netflix added 8.76 million new customers in the three months to December – more than one million greater than the company itself had forecast – despite just 420,000 of the total coming from the U.S. and Canada.

The company ended the year with 167 million streaming customers worldwide, including 61 million in the U.S. and 106 million internationally — the first time that the company surpassed 100 million subscribers outside the U.S. Some 4.42 million subscriber gains came in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 2 million in Latin America, and 1.75 million from the Asia Pacific region.

This underperformance in North America was attributed by the company to “recent price changes and to U.S. competitive launches” from the likes of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus.

Netflix’s results announcements are nowadays not only showing where new subscribers are coming from they are also including greater detail about content.

Season 3 of Netflix’s royal drama “The Crown” is off to a fast start, with viewership up more than 40% from season two. The hit British series has been viewed in more than 73 million households worldwide since its launch.

The streamer’s top U.K. release last year, however, was “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann,” a true-crime documentary about a young British girl who went missing during a family vacation in Portugal more than a decade ago. Three other locally-produced titles also appeared in the Netflix’s list of 10 most-watched programs in the U.K. last year.

Local originals led the way in the U.K., India, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Thailand and Sweden, according to 2019 viewership figures, the company said, supporting its “local audiences love local stories” message. As the Los Gatos-based streaming service ramps up production across the globe, it will be banking on more local-language content to attract eyeballs to its service.

Last year Netflix added outposts in Sydney and Berlin to go along with far-flung offices from Sao Paolo to Singapore, where the company has its Asia Pacific regional hub. Last week. Netflix unveiled its Paris office, while new regional headquarters will open in Amsterdam this year, serving Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Netflix plans to invest around $17.3 billion in content in 2020, according to a recent forecast by Wall Street firm BMO Capital Markets. Much of that spending will be in international markets.

Speaking at Content London in December, Netflix head of international originals Kelly Luegenbiehl said the streamer was just “scratching the surface” of what it plans to do in foreign-language programming. “(In) non-English-language content, this is just the beginning.”

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