The share price of the world's largest subscription video-on-demand service recently touched $623, nearly double what the stock was trading at in December. At 3:36 p.m. EDT, shares were priced $625.77. The rapid climb was fueled by revenue that jumped 24% to $1.57 billion for the three months ended March 31 as the company added nearly 5 million new subscribers for a worldwide total of 62 million.
Yet as summer approaches, Netflix is spending more on original programming to bolster the offerings of a streaming service synonymous with binge watching.
On June 5, Netflix will premiere Sense8, an ambitious sci-fi series from Matrix creators the Wachowskis, followed by the June 12 kickoff of the third season of hit show Orange Is the New Black.
The new comedy series Wet Hot American Summer debuts July 17, and on Aug. 28 Netflix is planning to release its first original movie, a sequel to the 2000 hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that audiences can see simultaneously at Imax (IMAX) theaters. On top of that, Netflix said last week that it's picking up A Very Murray Christmas, a holiday special arriving in December starring Bill Murray and directed by Sofia Coppola.
The company's overall plan is to offer 320 hours of original content in 2015, roughly triple last year's total. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also indicated on the company's latest investor conference call that original programming could eventually comprise as much as 50% of his company's overall content, a rise from 15% to 20%.
That means spending millions of dollars as the largest content creators led by Time Warner (TWX), CBS (CBS) and Disney (DIS) have done for years, all in the quest for breakout hits. Internet-based content providers are also stepping up their production efforts.
Amazon (AMZN) is offering its own roster of new shows including the Golden Globe Award-winning series Transparent on its Prime service. According to reports last month, the world's largest Internet retailer is in talks with Spike Lee to direct a film as its first high-profile feature.
Hulu, the joint-venture between Comcast (CMCSA), 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and Disney, is also ramping up its programming. Its shows include a deal with J.J. Abrams and Warner Bros. Television for a nine-hour miniseries to be called 11/22/63 and based on Stephen King's novel about the assassination of Presiddent John F. Kennedy. Additionally, there's Amy Poehler's Difficult People and Jason Katims' The Way.