If you’re worried that Netflix’s massive growth could lead to a tipping point that forces the streaming giant to finally contract its roster of original and licensed programming, don’t fret just yet about whether there’ll be room in the budget for a Season 3 of Luke Cage. Showing no signs of relinquishing its informal title as the screen entertainment industry’s elephant in the room, Netflix is committing a reported $12-13 billion to programming this year — more than any other TV or film studio.
According to a new report in The Economist, not only will the service spend upwards of $12 billion to bring forward new shows while curating existing ones in 2018; the massive spend also suggests Netflix is still very much in growth mode. The service spent $9 billion on programming last year, after spending roughly $7 billion in 2016.
That news comes on the heels of a survey that shows the bingeing powerhouse has become most viewers’ preferred way to watch TV, beating out both cable and broadcast television (which came in second and third) as viewers’ first access point, and simply blowing away (by more than double the viewership) its closest streaming competition.
From Stranger Things to Black Mirror to its lineup of Marvel shows, genre programming has walked hand in hand with Netflix’s meteoric surge in popularity, so it stands to reason that a significant chunk of all those programming dollars will continue to bring fresh sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and animated content onto the service. Just since the end of last year, Netflix has debuted or re-upped a slew of genre fare, from lavishly produced original series like Altered Carbon and Lost in Space to original films like Bright, The Ritual, and The Cloverfield Paradox.
All the recent talk of Netflix’s growth has been accompanied by superlatives: In December of last year, a viewership survey found that the service’s increase in popularity roughly correlated with a decline in popularity for cable subscriptions, and in May the company’s market value officially eclipsed that of Disney.
As the service continues to gameplan even more growth in international markets (68 million of its 125 million subscriptions already are held by people living outside the U.S.), it’s also test-marketing a new, higher-cost “Ultra” pricing tier in Europe that asks roughly $20 per month (€16.99) for access to Ultra HD streaming and HDR-formatted content. That comes after a U.S. price increase that bumped basic subscriptions from $9.99 to $10.99 a month, and premium subscriptions from $11.99 to $13.99.
As all the reports on Netflix’s big spending and all the surveys on viewer preferences make clear, though, no one appears to be flinching at the company’s gonzo growth — or its price-increasing expectation that both new and loyal viewers will happily come along for the ride. For July, it’s a ride that includes new-to-Netflix movies like Jurassic Park, Pandorum, and Interview With the Vampire, ahead of the much-anticipated premiere of Matt Groening’s all-new animated series, Disenchantment, which hits the service on Aug. 17.