Netflix also raised prices in October, increasing its standard plan by a dollar to $14 a month. It added an extra $2 to its premium tier, which now costs $18. The company typically increases its fees about every 18 months. It is also trying to clamp down on password sharing, long a common practice.
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Last year, in the same period, just as the pandemic was underway, the company added a record 15.7 million subscribers.
As much of the world went into lockdown, people turned to screens to while away the hours. Netflix recorded a jump in new sign-ups, leading to a record year of nearly 37 million additional customers. The company is unlikely to repeat that performance for 2021 as restaurants, stores, theaters and sports stadiums start opening up to full capacity across the country.
But Netflix is an international business. The majority of its revenues now come from overseas, and it has banked its future growth on emerging markets such as India and Latin America. Those regions have had recent surges in coronavirus cases, prompting new lockdowns. Most of the world, including Europe, has not vaccinated its citizens as quickly as the United States.
Netflix is still spending big. It spent $465 million to buy two sequels to the hit whodunit “Knives Out,” a price tag 50 percent higher than the first film’s gross receipts. It’s also 10 times what the film cost to produce. Hollywood lit up with chatter. Did Netflix overpay?
The film’s director, Rian Johnson, came up with the idea for the film, and he and his producing partner control the rights. The lucrative deal is in keeping with Netflix’s expensive courtship of Hollywood creators. It has nine-figure agreements with prolific television producers including Ms. Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, as well as the actor-producer Adam Sandler. Mr. Johnson could join their ranks by creating additional series and films for the company.
Despite Netflix’s push into owning its own content, it recently entered into a distribution agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment, the last major Hollywood studio not tied to any streaming business. Netflix will have rights to some Marvel franchises, including the Sony-controlled “Spider-Man,” and several offshoots based on the character.