Netflix has seen the number of subscribers increase this year, while blockades around the world keep people at home where they want to be entertained.
Nearly 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, the company said.
This is almost double the new registrations it has seen in the last few months of 2019.
However, the streaming service, which is the basis of some multimillion-dollar productions, said the arrests stopped “almost everyone” filming worldwide.
And the sharp drop in the value of many currencies has meant that new subscribers outside the United States, where Netflix is based, are not worth as much to society as they would have been before the crisis. And this has damaged its growth in international revenue.
However, the home entertainment giant’s share price has risen more than 30% this year as investors are betting on its ability to benefit people who spend more time indoors.
“Netflix is and will continue to be the least affected media company by Covid-19,” said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom. “Their business fits almost perfectly with a population that is suddenly tied to housing.”
The demand for streaming was so high that Netflix last month said it would reduce the quality of its videos in Europe to ease the strain on Internet service providers. The company also hired an additional 2,000 customer support agents to manage the growing interest.
Netflix has claimed that around 85 million people have seen its original film, Spenser Confidential, for at least two minutes – the limit it uses to see the figures. Meanwhile, the Tiger King documentary series has reached 64 million families.
The company plans to add another 7.5 million members in the three months to the end of June, above analysts’ expectations. But he warned investors that viewers and growth would decline as governments lift blockages around the world.
“Given the uncertainty about confinement times in the home this is mostly guesswork,” he said.
Netflix has stated that it plans to stick to the release schedule until June and has acquired other films to keep its offering fresh. But he said that future membership growth could be damaged by delays in the coming seasons and shows.
Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight, said that delays in production would damage the growth of subscribers in all streaming companies in the coming months.
“Netflix should probably go much better with its large catalog,” he said.
by Zoe Thomas, BBC News Technology reporter
The early growth of Netflix subscribers has certainly attracted the attention of Wall Street investors. But spectacular growth at a time when most Internet users around the world are being ordered to stay home is a little less impressive.
The biggest question for Netflix is whether it can hold back paying customers after the Covid-19 blockade measures have been eased.
The company is facing increasing competition from the likes of Disney Plus and Amazon Prime, both of which boast large content stores to attract new subscribers.
Meanwhile, the newly launched short-form streaming service Quibi has spent billions on publishing content with the best Hollywood talent. And later this year HBO Max and NBCUniversal will launch Peacock in the United States.
In the world of streaming, content is king and more rivals mean that Netflix will have to consolidate its training. That’s where coronavirus – a positive factor when it comes to promoting subscriber growth – becomes a possible downside. Netflix had to pause the production of new shows during the block.
Its rivals face the same challenge. But big brands like NBCUniversal and Disney are also organizing popular shows that they rented on Netflix and showing on their services instead.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for the largest number of new members with nearly 7 million new subscribers. Growth in the U.S. and Canada, which has been lagging behind in recent quarters, also increased, with 2.3 million new members joining the service, up from just 550,000 in the last few months of 2019.
The company now has over 182 million subscribers worldwide.
Netflix said revenue increased to $ 5.76 billion, up more than 27% from the same period in 2019. Profits almost doubled from $ 344 million in the first quarter of 2019 to $ 709 million.