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UPDATE 4-Netflix programming binge pays off with subscriber surge

From Reuters - April 16, 2018

(Reuters) - Netflix Incs blitz of original programs attracted a surprisingly high 7.4 million new customers from January to March, reassuring investors who are betting the video-streaming pioneers massive spending will fuel growth around the world.

New shows like Altered Carbon and O Mecanismo helped Netflix smash analysts subscriber estimates, and its better-than-expected second-quarter outlook soothed concerns about competition from Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

Shares of Netflix jumped more than 7 percent in after-hours trading on Monday to $330.30. The stock is the top performer on the S&P 500 this year, gaining more than 60 percent.

I dont think this is a one-time thing, said Chaim Siegel, analyst at Elazar Advisors. Its very similar to the results we saw last quarter. Its getting better.

Wall Street expected Netflix to add 6.5 million new subscribers, according to FactSet data. Netflix topped that and also said it would bring in 6.2 million more customers from April through June, 1 million more than analyst predictions.

Netflix says it will spend up to $8 billion on global TV shows and movies in 2018. As it has expanded to some 190 countries, investors accepted negative free cash flow in exchange for the potential of outsized growth in future years.

We have big plans for content growth and you should expect that to continue, Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on a post-earnings webcast.

In the first three months of the year, Netflix boosted original programing by 85 percent from a year earlier to a record 483 hours, according to Cowen & Co analysts.

The slate included science fiction series Altered Carbon and Marvel action drama Jessica Jones.

Non-English programing also is gaining traction, Netflix said. O Mecanismo is on pace to become one of the services most-viewed original series in Brazil, and Spanish-language heist thriller La Casa de Papel was the most-watched non-English series ever on Netflix, according to the company.

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