Netflix snagged 8.33 million new streaming customers in the final quarter of last year — two million more than Wall Street expected — as the pioneering online video service kept pouring money into programming in a race to dominate internet television around the world.
After signing up more than half of all U.S. broadband households, Netflix is building its customer base in 190 countries, and investors are expecting that billions in investments can begin delivering steady profits.
The company’s quarterly earnings report showed interest is growing.
Netflix picked up 6.36 million subscribers in international markets from October through December, when it released new seasons of critically acclaimed shows “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” as well as action movie “Bright.”
That topped Wall Street expectations of 5.1 million, according to FactSet.
Along with 1.98 million customer additions in the United States, the company ended the year with 117.58 million streaming subscribers around the globe.
Netflix turned a DVD-by-mail business into an online competitor of movie channel HBO. As it grew, it began licensing its own original shows to ensure a stream of new offerings if studio suppliers ended deals.
Walt Disney is making a major push into online streaming and will pull its first-run shows and movies from Netflix in 2019 as Hollywood fights for audiences.
Netflix plans to spend up to $8 billion this year on TV shows and movies to fend off Disney, Amazon.com, studios-owned Hulu and local competitors that are jumping into online video.