With Americans stuck at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they’re also fighting boredom and looking for ways to stay entertained. What’s the easiest way to stay entertained? Well, turn on the TV.
As a result, there’s one business that is clearly benefiting from stay home advisories – Netflix. The company now has more users than ever, both at home and abroad. In the recent quarterly earnings report, Netflix announced that it had added 2.31 million new subscribers in Q1 of this year, bringing total subscribers in the US and Canada up to nearly 70 million.
Meanwhile, Netflix released a blockbuster hit, one of its biggest ever, Tiger King. The release of the show lined up nearly perfectly with the start of the quarantine, allowing it to grab 34 million unique viewers in its first ten days, turning it into an all-out cultural phenomenon.
In the process, Netflix stock has surged to all time highs, peaking at $439.17 per share. At the time of writing, Netflix stock sits at $403.83 per share, a level it hasn’t seen since June of 2018, before the domestic streaming wars really took off with competition like Disney+.
How Much Netflix Content Are We Streaming During Quarantine?
In 2019, Netflix users watched an average of 2 hours per day. Fast forward to the coronavirus shutdown and Nielsen finds that staying at home during this event could cause a 61% increase in streaming video. As a result, we can assume that Netflix users are streaming about 3.2 hours of video per day while quarantining.
Keep in mind that the company added 2.31 million new subscribers in Q1 of this year, bringing total sub up to nearly 70 million in the US and Canada. At the end of 2019, Netflix had 61 million subscribers in the US and around 6 million in Canada. So we can assume that approximately 63.7 million of total subscribers at the end of Q1 2020 were US subscribers.
Now, if 63.7 million US subscribers are averaging 3.2 hours of viewing each day, that means US Netflix subscribers have been streaming about 203,840,000 hours per day during quarantine. Multiply that out over the last month of shutdown, and you’ll see that Netflix users in the United States have streamed around 6,115,200,000 hours of content.
That’s a lot of content!
How Much Data Are We Using Streaming Netflix During Quarantine?
Not only has streaming time increased during quarantine, but peak data usage has become the new normal. Netflix has three subscription tiers. The bottom tier streams in standard definition (SD), middle tier in high definition (HD), and highest tier in ultra high definition (UHD).
The middle tier is the most popular tier, with the other two tiers nearly evenly split. We know that streaming in HD uses about 3GB of data an hour on average. So using 3GB of data per hour, we can deduce that the average Netflix user is using about 9.6GB of data streaming per day while quarantining, or 288GB of data in the last month.
Apply that to all Netflix subscribers in the US, and we know that Netflix users in the US are using a total of around 18.346 million TB of data per month of quarantine.
What Happens Moving Forward?
During its earnings call, Netflix cautioned that it sees current user numbers as a temporary spike. The company expects usage to fall once governments begin to reopen. However, there’s a lot of speculation that despite reopenings, things won’t really return to normal for quite some time – if ever. It’s very plausible that retail and restaurants could suffer for the foreseeable future, and that Americans as a whole could continue to spend less time out and about and more time at home. This could help keep Netflix subscriber counts and viewing time up.
In the meantime, we also know that this pandemic could drastically accelerate cord cutting, as Big Cable continues to suffer from the lack of live sports. Meaning, as more people realize they don’t need cable anymore, companies like Netflix benefit as a cheaper streaming option.
However you slice it, the future looks pretty good for Netflix.
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Editor’s note: This report has been updated to correct a miscalculation.