The streaming service ended Q4 with 203.7 million subscribers, adding 37 million in 2020 alone. Eight-three percent of Netflix's new subscribers came from abroad, the company disclosed in its letter to investors.
Netflix's record-breaking growth during the pandemic also helped the company improve its overall balance sheets; net cash losses generated by operating activities were reduced from $1.5 billion in 2019 to $138 million in 2020.
The company now predicts to break even in 2021, telling investors: "We believe we no longer have a need to raise external financing for our day-to-day operations." In the past, Netflix had been criticized for raising billions of dollars in financing for its content obligations.
Netflix executives reiterated Tuesday that they view a broad range of companies and services, including TikTok and YouTube, as direct competitors. However, they also argued that the streaming wars are not a zero-sum game: "Disney+ had a massive first year (87 million paid subscribers!) and we recorded the biggest year of paid membership growth in our history."
Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.