Netflix: Most Watched 'Cable Network' Surpasses HBO In US Subscribers

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U.S. Netflix subscriptions overtook HBO subscriptions in 1Q. Reuters

Netflix has become major competition for premium and cable TV networks as it now surpasses HBO in U.S. subscribers.

The video streaming service said it now has 29.2 million U.S. subscribers out its more than 36 million subscribers worldwide -- adding more than two million U.S. subscribers in the first quarter alone. In comparison, HBO has 28.7 million subscribers and isn’t expected to see much growth as the cable TV industry continues to suffer from a lack of new subscribers, according to Quartz.

Netflix faced huge losses a year ago, but the company has seen considerable growth over the past several quarters and announced $3 million in profit and $1 billion in revenue in the past quarter. The company’s recent successes have been reflected in its share price, which jumped nearly 25 percent on Monday, following its earnings report.

Netflix has been dubbed by some industry followers as the most-watched “cable network” in the U.S., despite not being a cable network. Subscriptions start at about $8 a month, which allows members unlimited access to its streaming library. Members can also rent DVDs, which are shipped to their homes. The service reportedly garners 87 minutes of streaming viewership per U.S. household daily, more than any American cable network.

HBO, on the other hand, is a premium cable channel that must be bought on top of a basic cable subscription. Although HBO also now offers HBO Go, a free subscription add-on that allows members to stream HBO content over the Internet, the appeal in Netflix is its ability to stream a vast library of popular movies and TV shows. It also has started producing original programming, which Netflix attributed to the recent boost in its U.S. subscriber base.

Netflix's new shows, including the critically acclaimed “House of Cards,” and the recently premiered “Hemlock Grove," follow a similar  model HBO originally used to gain popularity; HBO introduced its first original series “Oz” in 1997, and went on to release more popular shows, such as “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.”

Netflix officials have noticed these similarities and plan to use them to the company’s advantage. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, has said, “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

Netflix recently introduced a “family” subscription option that will allow up to four simultaneous streams per account for $11 per month. The current option only allows for two simultaneous streams. Netflix says it doesn’t expect the option to be immensely popular, projecting just one percent of subscribers will choose the plan; however, it'll be good for large households, and for those who wish to share accounts with friends.

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