The streamer added 5.3 million new members during the third quarter. Less than two weeks after announcing plans to raise the price of its subscriptions, Netflix has revealed that it may spend as much as $8 billion on content next year.
The streamer announced that it would raise the cost of its most popular U.S. plan by $1 to $11 per month, a move largely seen as helping to offset its growing content budget. It also raised the price on its 4K video plan, which will soon cost $13.99 per month. The Los Gatos, Calif., company has been pumping resources into programming over the last several years, with a content budget expected to reach $6 billion this year.
Executives had previously said they expected to spend $7 billion in 2018. One reason why content spending may be going up is because Netflix plans to release 80 films in 2018, content chief Ted Sarandos revealed during a call with investors. Among those projects is the Robert De Niro vehicle The Irishman.
Netflix on Monday reported third-quarter revenue of $2.99 billion, up 30 percent from the same period last year. It brought in earnings of 29 cents per share, up from 12 cents per share during the third quarter of 2016.
Meanwhile, Netflix grew its subscriber base by 850,000 members in the U.S. and 4.45 million members internationally. That adds up to 5.3 million new members during the third quarter. Analysts, as polled by Thomson Reuters, expected the streamer to report revenue of $2.97 billion and earnings of 32 cents per share. Wall Street also expected Netflix to add 784,000 U.S. subscribers and 3.62 million international subscribers.
In a written note to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged recent decisions by Disney and other studios to keep their films and TV shows off Netflix. “While we have multiyear deals in place preventing any sudden reduction in content licensing, the long-term trends are clear,” he wrote. “Our future largely lies in exclusive original content that drives both excitement around Netflix and enormous viewing satisfaction for our global membership and its wide variety of tastes."
The exec went on to note that Netflix has $17 billion in content commitments over the next several years, with a growing percentage of its library made up of owned content. Netflix has inked deals directly with content creators, including Shonda Rhimes, as it seeks to own more of its original programming.
Sarandos downplayed the impact of Disney’s move to launch its own over-the-top streaming service. "It’s exciting that everyone is trying to make OTT television better and better,” he said. “We just have to focus on creating content that our members can’t live without.” Hastings, meanwhile, noted that the Disney content was a small piece of its international programming offering. When asked about competition from Amazon, which is said to be searching for its own Game of Thrones, Hastings said with a laugh, “So is [HBO topper] Richard Plepler.” Sarandos chimed in, “So is Ted Sarandos. So is everybody."