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Netflix sees 10% jump in subscriber growth, still in production during coronavirus

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Apr 22, 2020, 11:40 AM EDT (Updated)

The isolation brought with the coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for streaming services, as fans who're stuck at home turn more and more to the vast libraries of film and TV offered by the likes of Amazon, HBO, Disney, and Netflix. The latter has seen a big boost in its subscriber numbers and, because it is producing an international batch of content, is one of the few content creators not fully shut down by the coronavirus.

Netflix held its earning call on Tuesday, which led to a few pieces of optimism from the streaming titan. One of these was growth: Its first quarter saw an added 15.8M subscribers, bringing its total number of subscribers to 183M. These numbers come via The Hollywood Reporter and Netflix itself, and represent a nearly 10 percent increase over a single financial quarter. They're also more than double expectations, which were down at 7M for the same time period.

"In our 20+ year history, we have never seen a future more uncertain or unsettling," CEO Reed Hastings' shareholder note said. "The coronavirus has reached every corner of the world, and, in the absence of a widespread treatment or vaccine, no one knows how or when this terrible crisis will end. What’s clear is the escalating human cost in terms of lost lives and lost jobs, with tens of millions of people now out of work."

However, Netflix is still in production on a few live-action series (different than its animation projects operating with homebound workers) in a pair of countries. According to Deadline, Iceland and South Korea are both the home of in-progress Netflix productions.

Citing that “those two countries are very aggressive about testing and tracking early,” Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos explained that these productions “lay the groundwork for our future rollouts.” These shows remain unnamed. South Korea has had unique success in controlling the coronavirus, recently lowering its new cases per day to single digits and slowly reopening the country. Iceland, on the other hand, has had a high testing rate and high infection rate. When will Netflix fully resume business? “We have to be able to look our employees and cast and crew in the eyes and say, ‘This is a safe place to work,’” said Sarandos.

Variety recently reported that Sweden and Denmark are allowing film and TV productions to resume under social distancing measures and decreased staff on set, though it's unclear if the Netflix productions in Iceland and South Korea will be following similarly strict guidelines.

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