Netflix reported Thursday that it had more than 230 million global subscribers at the end of last year, exceeding analysts’ expectations as hits like “Wednesday” and “Harry & Meghan” drew in new viewers.
In a letter announcing record fourth-quarter earnings, the company claimed that “2022 was a tough year, with a bumpy start but a brighter finish.”
In addition, Netflix revealed that co-founder Reed Hastings would step down from his position as CEO after 25 years, overseeing the company’s transformation from a DVD rental service to an entertainment behemoth.
Hastings handed over control of Netflix to two long-term associates, Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters and Ted Sarandos, who has been the face of Netflix in Hollywood and was already named co-CEO.
“It feels like yesterday was our IPO; we were covered in red envelopes,” Hastings said during an earnings call.
“Hopefully, some of you have held the stock for all 21 years.”
Netflix went public in early 2002, with an initial stock price of $15 per share.
Following the release of the earnings figures, shares of the streaming television service rose nearly 7% to $337.31 in after-market trades.
The Netflix board has been discussing succession planning for many years, Hastings pointed out in a blog post, joking “even founders need to evolve!”
He said he would hold the new job of executive chairman, noting this was a role that tech giant founders often took, using Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates as examples.
The changing of the guard was announced as Netflix posted added subscribers that blew past even the most optimistic expectations.
The streaming giant said it enticed 7.7 million new members in three months, bringing Netflix membership around the world to 230 million people.
Netflix praised a successful slate of new content that included horror-themed comedy “Wednesday,” saying the “Addams Family” spinoff was the company’s third most popular series ever.
Royal tell-all documentary “Harry & Meghan” also scored, Netflix said, as well as “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” starring Daniel Craig.
“This is in stark contrast to the first half of the year. Creating the next biggest blockbuster drives subscribers,” said tech and media analyst Paolo Pescatore.