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How many subscribers does Netflix have? Soon you won’t know

2 minute read

The news that Netflix will only report its subscriber numbers until the end of the year managed to sink its share price overnight while at the same time it recorded excellent results.

Let the record show that as of the end of the first three months of 2024, Netflix had a massive 269.6 million subscribers worldwide: 82.66 million of them in the US alone. It’s a lot of people, but you won’t know how many it will have this time next year as it’s going to stop telling you.

From the start of 2025, Netflix has decided to stop reporting subscriber numbers. It says it will still let people know about significant milestones in the figures — obviously with an eye on a possible 300 million ahead — but it wants people to concentrate on revenue and engagement instead.

The markets did not like this. The markets like subscriber numbers. As a result, despite posting really healthy financials (including, yes, over 9 million new subscribers), the company’s shares actually fell 5% in after hours trading. And Netflix is probably going to continue to take heat about it for the rest of the year.

So, why has it done it? 

First, it’s quitting while it’s still ahead. Its crackdown on password sharing and its introduction of ad-supported services has been hugely successful, and it has piled on subs numbers as a result. At some point thought that growth is going to stop. And if the markets and shareholders are all still fixated on those numbers, once they start going into reverse then the company might find itself in a bit of difficulty.

Second, plenty of other people do it. Apple and Amazon have never broken out subscriber numbers, so Netflix is just retreating behind the same smokescreen they have already erected. Of course, Apple and Amazon have other parts of their business rather than viewing numbers to concentrate on and talk to the markets about, so it’s not exactly the same thing.

But it is a slight case of losing on the swings and winning on the roundabouts. Netflix never used to say how many people had watched its shows and movies. Now, with its hand forced by having to appease the advertisers it is now trying to attract (who are understandably rather keen on such numbers) it does and in detail.

And that for Q1 is very interesting. 3 Body Problem, its extremely expensive and ambitious sci-fi bet from the same show runners as Game of Thrones, has found an audience but possibly not as much of a one as it would have liked. Here’s the Top 10 table by views (which it defines as hours viewed divided by runtime for each title):

  1. Fool Me Once 98.2m
  2. Griselda 66.4m
  3. Avatar: The Last Airbender 63.8m
  4. The Gentlemen 61m
  5. Berlin 56.7m
  6. American Nightmare 50.2m
  7. 3 Body Problem 39.7m
  8. One Day 36m
  9. Love is Blind S6 20m
  10. Dave Chappelle: The Dreamer 18.4m

A shout out here to the UK sector which has produced three of the Top 10, including Fool Me Once.

These sorts of figures will continue. Indeed, Netflix promises more of this sort of thing in the future. But the Streaming Wars as we know them are effectively now over: Netflix has declared itself the winner, stuck the football up its jumper, and gone home with it. It will be interesting to see if Disney follows suit and how quickly.

Tags: Business Netflix