Netflix’s international business has overtaken its domestic one for the first time in paid membership, according to the streaming giant’s latest earnings report [pdf]. The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service added almost 5 million paid members during the third quarter, roughly 80% of which (almost 4 million) were outside the US.
That vaulted the international paid membership base past the 50 million mark to almost 52.7 million, ahead of the US paid member count of 51.35 million.
In combination, Netflix now has more than 104 million paying members worldwide, up from just over 99 million during the previous quarter.
MarketingCharts predicted these milestones in Q2, based on the growth trajectory for international versus domestic paid subscriptions.
To give an idea as to how quickly Netflix’s international business is growing:
- Paid memberships outside the US have more than doubled in just 2 years, since Q3 2015; while
- In the US, it has taken almost 5 years for Netflix to double its paid member count.
Also as part of its earnings report, Netflix revealed that it plans to spend $7-8 billion on content next year, which would be at least $1 billion more than this year’s spending. The company sees its growth coming from exclusive original content, which now accounts for one-quarter of all content spending.
That investment may well pay off: recent research shows that more Netflix subscribers are turning to the service specifically to watch original content. What’s more, people are joining SVOD services in order to watch specific programming, indicating that original content investments should pay off in the form of subscriber growth.
Content variety and quality also make Netflix a more entrenched part of people’s media diets: Netflix has become the default source of TV programming for a sizable share of its subscribers, and it is now considered to be a “must keep” TV brand along the likes of the Big 4 broadcast networks, topping them all among youth.