It paid off to own Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) this year. The streaming video giant's stock trounced the market during a volatile year in 2020, delivering impressive gains to shareholders along the way.

If you invested $8,000 in the stock in January, in fact, today you'd have over $12,200 worth of Netflix equity.

A family watches TV together on the couch.

Image source: Getty Images.

That boost translates into an over 50% return, compared to the 14% notched by the wider S&P 500 and the 38% spike generated by the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index.

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Netflix's business benefited from pandemic-related global shifts in behavior that placed a massive premium on at-home entertainment options while people sought to limit social outings, travel, and restaurant trips. The company is on pace to add 34 million subscribers this year to blast past its prior record of 29 million global additions set in 2018.

CEO Reed Hastings and his team have predicted slower gains at the start of 2021 as the content giant's growth cadence settles back down toward a more normal pace. But investors see a bright future ahead for the company as it continues boosting its catalog -- and its monthly prices -- while continuously improving its cash flow. These powerful trends give Netflix a good shot at outperforming the market again in 2021.