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Tara Lachapelle

Subscribing to Netflix Is No Longer a Choice

The coronavirus pandemic is helping the streaming service make the case that it's invaluable to households.

In a shelter-in-place world, Netflix is a necessity.

In a shelter-in-place world, Netflix is a necessity.

Photographer: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Netflix Inc.’s business model was only supposed to work unless and until a recession hit, or so said conventional wisdom. That turned out to be very wrong. We’re now in a stay-at-home recession, and Netflix — along with Zoom, Instagram, TikTok and Amazon — has defined the experience. 

Holed up, bored and ready to stream, nearly 16 million users signed up for Netflix subscriptions in the first quarter, according to results posted Tuesday — almost double the amount analysts expected. Most of those streaming converts came in March as the Covid-19 virus and resulting shelter-in-place orders spread from China to Italy to the U.S. and beyond. It’s a remarkable pace of growth that won’t last, as even Netflix admits. But more important, behind that number is a consumer that may be more convinced than ever that Netflix is a necessity. That can’t yet be said for other streaming-video services.