During the months that preceded the launch of two much-hyped streaming platforms, Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Disney+ and Apple's Apple TV+, many pundits declared the imminent fall from grace of the current top streaming services providers, namely Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). These new streaming services -- particularly Disney+ and its lineup of blockbuster movies and TV shows loaded with A-list celebrities -- threatened to lure viewers away from Netflix. However, Netflix itself didn't seem to be particularly worried. In its third-quarter letter to shareholders, Netflix's management had the following to stay about the increasingly stiff competition in the streaming services industry:
The launch of these new services will be noisy. There may be some modest headwind to our near-term growth, and we have tried to factor that into our guidance. In the long-term, though, we expect we'll continue to grow nicely given the strength of our service and the large market opportunity.
As if to back up this claim, Netflix recently released some data showing that its platform is making some serious strides in international markets.
Netflix's growth abroad
According to a recent SEC filing, Netflix's growth in international markets is outpacing its growth in North America. During the third quarter, the company recorded 3.1 million net additions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and the company ended the quarter with 47.4 million paying subscribers in these regions, a 40% increase year over year. Further, Netflix's net additions in Asia-Pacific were 1.5 million, and the company's end-of-quarter paying subscriber count was 14.5 million for this region, 53% higher than it was during the year-ago period. Lastly, in Latin America, Netflix added 1.5 million subscribers during the third quarter, and the company ended the quarter with 29.4 million subscribers, a 22% increase year over year. Note that by comparison, Netflix only added 613,000 subscribers in North America during the third quarter.
Disney+ isn't the end of Netflix
Now, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Disney+ has been hugely successful thus far, much more so than many people expected. The streaming service managed to land 10 million subscribers right out of the gate, and it has already surpassed the 20-million-subscriber mark, which is quite an impressive feat. However, Disney+ doesn't look likely to be the end for Netflix after all. First, Netflix obviously recognizes the "large market opportunity" found abroad, and the company is still looking to grow in these markets.
In its third-quarter letter to shareholders, Netflix vowed to "expand" its non-English original shows and movies, because "they continue to help grow our penetration in international markets." Second, it turns out most Disney+ subscribers -- an estimated 80%, to be exact -- also have a Netflix subscription. So it isn't the case that Disney+ is stealing all -- or even most -- of Netflix's customers. And although Netflix will likely suffer some losses in its core market as a result of competition from Disney+, its gains in international markets could offset these losses.
In other words, for Netflix's shareholders, it isn't time to push the panic button, at least not yet. And although Netflix probably won't repeat the performance it delivered during the last decade -- with its shares soaring by more than 4,100% since 2010 -- during this decade, it is still, in my view, a growth stock worth buying.