Netflix nears 100m subscribers despite slower-than-expected growth

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Netflix will reach 100m subscribers by this weekend, the streaming video company said, even as it reported slower-than-expected subscriber growth in the first quarter of 2017.

Shares fell 3 per cent in after-hours trading in New York. Netflix stock has gained 55 per cent from a year ago when the company first said it would cross the 100m subscriber mark “some time” in 2017, boosted by an ambitious expansion to 130 new countries.

The company added 4.95m members in the first three months of the year, fewer than the 5.2m it had forecast. Additions were slower than expected in both the US, where 1.42m new subscribers signed up, and internationally, with 3.53m new members.

The slower subscriber growth was in part due to the mix of new shows in the quarter, said chief executive Reed Hastings. For example, House of Cards, which last year debuted in the first quarter, has been pushed into the second quarter this year.

In the first half the year, Netflix expects to add 8.15m net new subscribers, compared with 8.42m in the same period in 2016.

“We have come to see these quarterly variances as mostly noise in the long-term growth trend and adoption of internet TV,” Mr Hastings said.

Revenue rose to $2.63bn from $1.96bn a year ago, in line with analysts’ expectations of $2.6bn, according to estimates from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Net income rose to $178.2m, or 40 cents a share, from $27.7m, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. The company had forecast earnings of 37 cents a share.

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