Netflix gained 24 million new subscribers in 2017

A television still of The Crown starring Claire Foy.

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Netflix shares raced higher in after-hours trade Monday as the streaming television giant reported better-than-expected gains in its global subscriber base and a quarterly profit that nearly tripled from a year ago.

In its fourth quarter report, Netflix said it added 8.3 million new subscribers to bring its total paid membership base to 110.6 million.

Net profit in the quarter surged to US$186 million (S$245.4 million) from US$67 million a year earlier as the leader in streaming video saw growth ramp up in many parts of the world. Revenue for the quarter rose 33 percent to US$3.3 billion.

"We had a beautiful Q4, completing a great year as internet TV expands globally," said a Netflix letter to shareholders with the quarterly report.

"In 2017, we grew streaming revenue 36 percent to over US$11 billion, added 24 million new memberships (compared to 19 million in 2016), achieved for the first time a full-year positive international contribution profit and more than doubled global operating income." Shares in Netflix vaulted higher by some nine percent in after-market trade following the earnings report for the television giant, which has been on a tear with its programs like The Crown and Stranger Things. Netflix shares hit a record high during the trading day, with the rise after the earnings release lifting the California-based company's overall value above US$100 billion for the first time.

As it has shifted more to original content, Netflix has been winning awards for its shows and has helped shake up both the television and film industries with its deep pockets.

By delivering online, Netflix is available in some 200 markets worldwide, with the goal of being a global TV network, and now produces programs in several languages.

Netflix said it now expects to spend between US$7.5 billion and US$8 billion on content for 2018.

"We believe our big investments in content are paying off," the statement said.

"In 2017, average streaming hours per membership grew by nine percent year-over-year."

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