From humble beginnings as a mail-order DVD rental service to a $100 billion entertainment business, Netflix has used daring moves to establish global dominance. 

Here’s the adventure-filled story of the rise of Netflix, told in facts, timelines and statistics.

Netflix in a Nutshell

Getting your bearings with Netflix is something of a challenge. The company’s rise from a physical delivery service to a digital delivery service was stunning enough. But then they became one of the most important content creators in the world.

7 Surprising Facts About Netflix

We’ll deal with this in detail below. But the following 7 facts about Netflix should orient you: 

  1. Five of Netflix’s six most popular series ever were launched during the pandemic, according to Deadline magazine.
  2. Annual revenue has grown from $1.3 million in its founding year (1998) to almost $25 billion in 2020, representing an increase of over 1.8 million percent.
  3. It took 9 years for Netflix to break the $1 billion mark in annual revenue (in 2007). Since then annual revenue has grown to almost $25 billion (2020).
  4. In 18 years, Netflix stock (NASDAQ: NFLX) has increased in value from $1 — when its IPO launched in 2002 — to over $500 per share, a surge of over 50,000%
  5. If you purchased at least $2,000 of Netflix stock in 2002’s IPO, you’d be a millionaire now. Sounds like a great plotline for a Netflix show!
  6. $6 billion: the amount that Netflix has lost to password sharers, according to analysts.
  7. Since 2014, Netflix has increased its content spend by over 444% to $7.3 billion in 2020.

Netflix subscriber statistics

The company’s subscriber base has grown from 456,000 in 2001 to almost 208 million as of April 2021. 

This is an increase of over 45,000%. Let’s take a closer look at the dynamics, starting with the most recent subscriber stats.



How Many Subscribers Does Netflix Have in 2021?

In April of 2021 Netflix reported 207.64 million global subscribers (paid) in 190 countries, representing a 13.6% year-over-year (YoY) growth.

The company added 4 million new subscribers during this quarter, but missed its new subscriber goal by 2 million. Netflix stock shares dipped on the news and Bloomberg’s Ed Ludlow remarked “The COVID boost is gone.”

 By contrast, during the same period last year, Netflix gained 15.77 million new subscribers. Netflix called this pandemic-based demand the “COVID-19 pull-forward effect.”

Does Amazon Prime Video Have More Subscribers Than Netflix?

No, Amazon Prime video does not have more subscribers than Netflix. Amazon Prime has approximately 200 million subscribers as of the end of April 2021. That’s second place to Netflix’s 208 million. But Prime includes many services, not just video. It’s not clear how many Prime customers are actually using the service to stream video.

According to Ampere Analysis, approximately 54% of US Prime members use their Prime video app. (Source: CNBC, Netflix letter to shareholders, TheWrap)

How Many Paid Subscribers Did Netflix Gain in 2020?

Netflix gained a record 36.5 million new paid subscribers in 2020. A full 83.3% of these came from outside the US and Canada. The company ended Q4 of 2019 with 167.05 million paid subscribers. During the final quarter of 2020, Netflix passed the 200 million milestone, hitting a high of 203.66 million paid subscribers.


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