Netflix Now Has More Subscribers Than Cable

Despite going all-in on Adam Sandler content – a bizarre choice - Netflix has managed to continue growing its subscriber base, recently reaching a new milestone: It now has more paying customers than Comcast Corp., Charter Communications and all other US cable companies combined.

As Forbes reports, Netflix now has 50.85 million subscribers, surpassing cable's 48.61 million. There is one caveat, though: Cable’s total doesn’t include minor cable networks, which could amount to 5% of total customers.

Over the past five years, Netflix has managed to more than double its subscriber base from 23.4 million in the first quarter of 2012. But growth has slowed recently due to intensifying competition from a host of rival streaming services, causing Netflix to miss both its domestic and foreign subscriber targets for the first quarter.

Here’s a summary of Netflix's Q1 results:

1Q revenue $2.64b vs est. $2.65b

1Q GAAP EPS 40c vs 37c

1Q domestic streaming net adds 1.42 million, vs consensus est. 1.59MM vs company forecast 1.5MM

1Q international streaming net adds 3.53MM consensus est. 3.90m vs company forecast 3.7MM

2Q GAAP EPS forecast 15c vs est. 23c

2Q revenue forecast 2.755BN  vs est. $2.76BN

Luckily for American cable companies, the battle for subscribers isn’t a zero-sum game. Here's Forbes:

While cable subs are down by 4 million in the same five years that Netflix has seen huge growth, that's not a massive drop off. It's also worth bearing in mind that cable TV makes up only 50% of total TV viewership in pay TV. That said, Q1 2017 shows a net loss in subscriptions while Q1 2016 saw cable grow a little.


Satellite TV is doing okay, with around 38 million subscribers. Dish Network added 318,000 customers in Q1 with Direct TV stalling with gains that didn't outpace customer loses. Satellite is still growing faster than cable though.


Faster still though are the internet-delivered services like Sling TV and Direct TV now which have added 350,000 in Q1. These services now have 1.7 million customers between them, and it's likely that this segment will continue to see growth as customers move away from cable TV.

Cable, satellite and internet streaming services in the US have a combined 93.3 million subscribers. Even as Netflix expands into more foreign markets, it likely won’t match that total any time.

To be sure, the Netflix to cable comparison isn’t really fair to the cable companies: While the exact cost depends on the specific package, monthly fees associated with cable are typically many times more expensive than Netflix's $10 fee.

Which brings us to our next, and final topic: Slowing subscriber growth isn’t the only metric that makes Netflix's critics uncomfortable. The company’s unprecedented cash burn is another major red flag. In Q1, the company burned $422 million, which while less than the record $640 million burned in Q4 (over $1 billion in the last 6 months) was $160 million than its cash burn from a year ago. The company still expects to burn a total of $2 billion for the full year.

Here’s how the company explains it:

Free cash flow in Q1’17 was -$423 million vs. -$261 million in the year ago quarter and an improvement from -$639 million in Q4’16. The growth in our original content means we continue to plan to have around $2B in negative FCF this year.


We have a large market opportunity ahead of us and we’re optimizing long-term FCF by growing our original content aggressively. Negative near-term FCF is the result of the big increases in our original content, combined with small but growing operating margins. Since we want our operating margins to grow slowly so we can spend enough to quickly grow revenue and original content, we anticipate negative FCF to accompany our rapid growth for many years.


Our operating margins are our key indicator of improving global profitability; they are already growing and we plan to keep them growing for many years ahead. Eventually, at a much larger revenue base, original content and revenue growth will be slower, and we anticipate substantial positive FCF, like our media peers.

It remains to be seen if the transition from massive cash burn to cash flow positive is as simple as the company expects it to be.


Moustache Rides navy62802 Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:24 Permalink

Netflix programming is pretty awful as well.  Unless you like the newly incorporated selection of Bollywood movies or korean fare.  All part of the 3rd worldization of the U.S.  I can't believe what i've seen happen to U.S. culture and society in my life.  I'm 41 and this is like watching a slow motion descent into hell.  Screw this goddamn ball, which is looking to not actually be a ball anymore.  Laugh away.  Check out this and refute it point by point please

In reply to by navy62802

Twee Surgeon Moustache Rides Fri, 06/16/2017 - 23:09 Permalink

We had Netflix up until a year or more ago. They Produced a show called something or other that had 8 in the title, if I remember correctly.Just for shits and giggles, I thought I would watch an episode as the Rating was pretty good. (I have not seen a TV show since that one about the Meth cook guy.) The opening was a Black woman screwing a white woman with a strap on dildo that fell to the floor after the opening scene. I'm no prude, I give not one shit about consenting adult sexuality. Porn is not a problem either, but I told the wife in a loud voice, to stop feeding these pigs.They could have been Rationaly competitive and tried the Kojak or Columbo or Fawlty Towers remake but all they have is a series of droll lead up's to soft porn scenes. It's just Vacant shit. Why fucking bother. Do not feed the Talent free scum and they will go away. Never again. For many reasons not mentioned.

In reply to by Moustache Rides

Moustache Rides Twee Surgeon Fri, 06/16/2017 - 23:30 Permalink

I tried to watch that show too.  Sense 8 by the tranny wakowski brothers.  That scene with the strap on was so disgusting for television I was aghast.  That shit does not belong on television.   What makes me the maddest is that the producers of today's content seem to think that i'm a moron that can't stop thinking about sex.  THAT offends me the most. Comedies today, oh my god, the millenial's sense of humor is practically primordial at this point. 

In reply to by Twee Surgeon

Grumbleduke Moustache Rides Sat, 06/17/2017 - 03:05 Permalink

reminds of a line by Doug Stanhope, where he asks himself why are there sex scenes in action/crime etc. movies? If you watch porn, you don't want to watch a car chase for dramatical purposes...Early movies had sex and violence, too. But somehow they managed to realize that it's not that important for the story going forward. Torrent the shit you want to see and show hollywood the finger.

In reply to by Moustache Rides

Endgame Napoleon Grumbleduke Sat, 06/17/2017 - 08:07 Permalink

Unless it is some pyrotechnic production, where the plot is convoluted to the max, they have lost the art of suggestion. Old movies and old TV shows did everything with suggestive dialog and actors who added to that, subtly, via tone of voice and body language. They did not resort to just throwing it in your face, because, for one thing, they tried to create something that both kids and adults could watch without losing interest. Which took some skill. The adults who wanted something else were free to go to a so-called red-light district. The truth is that they have gone too far for a buck, and while it looks like it is done for freedom of speech, we have never had less freedom of speech due to the PC automatons. People do not like politically correct lectures when watching shows and looking at commercials, trying to sell them something. I have sold to different races. I just showed them the exact same thing, trying to sell the best design and the best materials to everyone who walked through the door without special nods to this group or that group to acknowledge their factional-group identity. If they showed signs of not liking it, I priced down or changed directions as quickly as I could. You do not know who is going to buy what by race markers. The best cable channel -- hands down -- is C-SPAN. They deliver quality without interpretive overlays.

In reply to by Grumbleduke

kumquatsunite Moustache Rides Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:30 Permalink

Thank you for your rejection of Sense8. If you drill down into who is in charge in Hollywood, what you'll find is that virtually every company (production company/and-or/major studio) has a homosexual at the top. Thus, the bathhouse sexuality is glorified and exemplified. For those of you who have daughters, you'll note that there is a significant difference in the treatment of women vs men in Hollywood. Women are expected to "share" any female roles/opportunities with the transgendes (Orange Is The New Black) and there is the glorification of women as available to all comers and their "bisexuality" and support for homosexuals. Significantly, you won't see actors glofifying their bisexuality. And although their has been push for male nudity, few male actors are willing to show it all.And remember, overall it is not millenials Creating this crap; it is the next generation up that is in charge...and completely influenced by their fear of being called homophobic (as if one should not be rejecting the ecoli/hiv/hep c contaminating fecal matter sex).

In reply to by Moustache Rides

gold rubeberg Twee Surgeon Sat, 06/17/2017 - 02:00 Permalink

I dumped Netflix after it took control over the flow of programming away from the viewer. When I first signed up it was great; you could select an episode of a series to play, have it play from beginning to end and then stop with no further ado. No more. It starts playing the next installment and if you don't want that you have to intervene. Want to see it all the way to the end, including credits? You have to intervene. Want to cue up a show and start playing it by clicking "Play"? No dice. It starts playing when you select it, the "Play" button apparently serving as nothing more than a vestige of days gone by when the viewer actually had the privilege of controlling when play would start.

I switched to Hulu. It actually tries to please its customers. If you want it to "auto play" there's a preference setting for that. If you don't, you can turn it off. User choice ... what a concept!

Screw Netflix. What a relief to ditch a service from a company that displays such arrogant disregard for its customers. If I had owned its stock I'd have dumped it, too.

In reply to by Twee Surgeon

gold rubeberg Benito_Camela Sat, 06/17/2017 - 13:29 Permalink

It wan't rash. I even contacted Netflix directly - twice - and the user reps dismissed it as an "engineering" experiment. If there are preference settings available now to deal with these issues, great, but if there were at the time they were well hidden, even from Netflix techs.

You should take your own advice and make sure you have all the facts before resorting to ridicule.

In reply to by Benito_Camela

HRClinton navy62802 Sat, 06/17/2017 - 12:26 Permalink

Netflix Streaming is no better. Limited selection of movies.The numbers indicate what is really going on: as the discretionary income of the middle class keeps shrinking, they are switching to a cheaper alternative: online news and Netflix movies.That's the real story that no one will print in the business media.

In reply to by navy62802

Daily Bail Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:10 Permalink

Smug bastard Scott Pelley had his last broadcaset tonight. His goodbye was his typical smarmy bullshit. I'll look for a clip. I truly hate that cocksucker...And fuck cable and fuck Netflix. I don't use either.

aurum4040 Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:13 Permalink

Much rather be long CMCSA then NFLX. People talk of the demise of cable, especially when and or if 5G happens. Problem in that assumption is that it doesn't recognize the backhaul requirements for such a network, the requirement of a robust cable/fiber infrastructure. Just like Wimax, 5G will prove to be nothing but a blip on the cable business. Right now Comcast is the 4th biggest startup investor in the world behind Google Intel and Microsoft. They are well aware of what's going on and share holders will continue to be rewarded. In my opinion.

Haitian Snackout Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:29 Permalink

Back in 96 when my cable bill went from 28 to 31 dollars, I took a hard look at the monthly guide and noticed that there were at most, 10 movies that I might want to watch. So I told myself, F it, I'll spend 30 bucks, no...make it 50 a month at the used video store and send these jokers a dear cable company letter. So I bought about 15 a month for the first 3 months, then about 8 for the next 3. Then about 3 or 4  for the next 6 months. After a year I had more than I could watch. And once a month I would go and pick up 2 or 3 more. Never looked back. And since I have always thought the older ones were far better than the current stuff, I was a lot happier as well. I am not surprised that Netflix has done as well as it has. Still, most of the newer movies are crap. but it is a better deal no matter how you slice it. I thought I would miss TV but I was wrong.

Tiwin Haitian Snackout Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:48 Permalink

Amen. I did the same thing , tho for different reasons. I just hated teevee. I know the movies are just the same hooker in better clothes. I simply cannot stand commercials and blurbs about whats coming up on the 110'clock propanewsganda shows.Anyway in 20 years of not paying an 80 dollar plus cable bill,almost 20K , I did what you did. Pawn shops sell used DVDs for as low as one dollar each tho I paid mostly 2 bucks each. I have 3000 movies to choose from if I get bored.And some shiny stuff instead of paid cable bills.

In reply to by Haitian Snackout

Atomizer Fri, 06/16/2017 - 23:06 Permalink

Good, don't use NFLX. Bleeding the liberal is fun to watch. Plenty of places to go and watch movies.My favorite cable channel is ID. I love forensic detective stories. Especially the ones who were cold case and reopened..solved. God bless are police force. When I went to purchase two packs of cigarettes about a hour ago. Tooted horn to two police officers, they waved back. You have to give them respect. On the freeway, drive insanely fast. In city, drive so slow to avoid a accident. I love the freeway, I can go three digits. Driving city is a clusterfuck for me. Assholes all around. My old memories of the autobahn. That was a unique experience in my 20's. I did it a couple times after, they clamped down. Certain areas you can go balls to the wall. I won't tell you. God bless the police department. We love you very much. Never forget!  To the law enforcement reading, have a good laugh. Pepsi MAX / Camaro / Jeff Gordon Commercial - Test Drive - YouTube

Atomizer Juggernaut x2 Sat, 06/17/2017 - 00:16 Permalink

No asshole, Charleston, SC Police are very nice. Your drunk with hate towards police. Depite I almost lost my license and a speeder. This was at 17 years of age. One point of losing my license. I think in Ohio, everything drops in 3 years. Then became crafty again. Bought a rador and Lazer jammer. Heading to Chicago with a Engineer. Really nice officer. Lectured me. Even let me use the radar camera. I was pulling 95 mph. The officer told me, I wouldn't of pulled you over, the jammer stopped you. Disable it and we will not bother you. He wrote down my speeding to 10 mph over of 65 mph. Never used the jammer again. It was a wake-up call. I love the police force. Ohio State troopers can be very nice. I was pushing the envelope to get to McCormick place in Chicago. Hindsight, should of flown. But still using a jammer. Glad it all worked out for good. No jammer.  

In reply to by Juggernaut x2