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Netflix added way more subscribers than it expected in first quarter

With the coronavirus pandemic putting many folks in lockdown, it’s little surprise that Netflix has been picking up new subscribers for its streaming service. But the extent of that growth may surprise some.

According to data for the first quarter of 2020 released by the company on Tuesday, April 21, Netflix added a whopping 15.8 million subscribers to its service globally, almost double the expected figure of 8.2 million. The service now has 182 million subscribers worldwide.

The company offered some data about which shows are proving popular among its subscriber base during the first three months of 2020. Tiger King is, of course, one of the big hits, with 64 million households globally hitting the play button on the wacky docuseries. Ozark season 3, and Spanish language hit La Casa de Papel, (Money Heist), which debuted in early April, are also receiving a lot of attention.

Original movie Spenser Confidential was streamed in 85 million homes, while the unscripted dating show Love is Blind streamed in 30 million.

The company said that stay-at-home measures prompted by the pandemic caused “significant disruption” for customer support and content production, though it says customer service is now working smoothly again, thanks in part to the recent hiring of 2,000 extra personnel.

Production, as you’d expect, is more of a challenge. “Almost all filming has now been stopped globally,” Netflix said, adding: “This has been devastating for millions of workers in the TV and film industry — electricians, hair and make-up artists, carpenters, and drivers who are often paid hourly wages and work project-to-project.”

To support the industry, Netflix created a $100 million fund in March, with payouts prioritized for the hardest-hit workers on its originals productions until government safety nets kick in. Around $30 million is also going to third parties and nonprofits as a way to support out-of-work crew and cast across the broader TV and film industry in locations around the world.

But despite the current disruption, the company said that content it planned to release in the second quarter is still set to hit the streaming service on time because filming had already finished.

Notably, the California-based company said that it expects viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how many of those new sign-ups stay on board once life starts to get back to normal.

Netflix also revealed that it has rolled out its new Top 10 lists feature to more than 100 countries after trialing it in the U.K. and Mexico at the start of the year. The movie currently at the top of some countries’ top 10 lists? Contagion, of course.

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