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Netflix earnings: What to watch for

Netflix reports 1st-quarter earnings today, and all eyes are whether it can keep its earnings streak going

Netflix reports its first-quarter earnings after the closing bell Wednesday. And all eyes are whether the video streaming giant can keep its earnings streak going.

The Los Gatos, Calif., company has delivered positive earnings results in the last four quarters. As it continues its push to expand globally, of key interest will be how its overall customer base will grow.

The quickly expanding company is being viewed favorably by analysts, with most maintaining  “buy” ratings.

Here’s some things to look out for when it reports its results:

Unextraordinary domestic subscriber growth

Analysts are projecting solid growth of new domestic subscribers—about 1.80 million.  While the numbers are healthy, it does indicate some slowdown to its subscriber growth in the U.S. Of course, the company narrowly exceeded its expectations last quarter (adding 1.90 million U.S. subscribers versus the projected 1.85 million).

International subscriber growth

The bigger question is whether Netflix is finding traction overseas. With the company being vocal about its aggressive push for international expansion over the next two years, attention will be paid to its international subscriber numbers. Last quarter, its international subscriber base grew by 2.43 million customers—a record for the company. The uptick is expected to continue as Netflix has expanded into France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Austria at the beginning of last quarter.  Projections are around 2.3 million to 2.8 million new international subscribers. The company expects to complete its 200-country expansion by 2016.

Increased competition a good thing?

The loyalty of customers—and the ability to bring in new ones—is a point of interest that will only get more fascinating as Netflix, long the king of the streaming hill, faces more competition beyond Amazon and Hulu. HBO recently launched its online-only service and Dish Network Corp. launched its over-the-top service Sling TV earlier this year.

Investment in content worth the cost?

Netflix has sought to maintain a grip in original content in the face of rising competition. The streaming service has ramped up the number of original programming hours on its roster, and spent roughly $3 billion on content in 2015—a figure that will likely get larger as it expands into new territories.

In its first quarter it delivered the new season of “House of Cards,” and new additions: the Tina Fey-created comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and thriller “Bloodline,” both released in March. While new content can be a catalyst for a company’s subscriber growth, whether all the money Netflix has invested in original content will balance out with the cost for it is another question.

Rise in revenue

Netflix’s revenue is expected to rise about 24% to $1.57 billion, compared with $1.27 billion for the same period a year ago, according to analysts. 

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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