Netflix Has Almost 4x as Many Streaming Subscribers as Comcast has Cable Subscribers

Netflix has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years, with international expansion, a focused strategy on original content that gets people talking, and an affordable price point that appeals to younger subscribers. Because of this, Netflix has surpassed 100 million subscribers this year, their CEO Reed Hastings casually celebrating with a steak dinner at Denny’s last week.

He certainly has reason to smile.

We wanted to compare this growth to the total number of cable television subscribers Comcast currently has, so we browsed through Comcast’s Q1 2017 financial reporting. As you can see in the report, Comcast currently has 28.9 million subscribers, adding 279,000 over the last three months.

So how do the two companies compare side-by-side when it comes to adding new subscribers? Pulling data from each company’s financial reporting, we found that Netflix has 4x the total number of subscribers as Comcast, and has been growing at a much faster pace, especially over the past few years. See the approximate annual subscriber count of each service below (in millions):

It’s of course important to point out that naturally we’d expect a service with massive popularity that only costs 1/5th of its cable counterparts to have more subscribers. But the interesting thing is of course how much faster Netflix is growing their subscriber numbers compared to traditional cable.

This can probably be largely attributed to international expansion, territory that Comcast hasn’t touched. But there still seems to be a trend in the younger audiences to avoid signing up for cable altogether, instead opting for streaming services. Very few people in the younger age brackets are rushing to sign up for their own cable subscriptions, while Netflix, at its price and with a content library to match, has much more appeal.

Netflix has also been hitting its stride in international markets, bringing a higher quality library with targeted content that is supposed to appeal in these markets. Last year, we reported that there was very little consistency in each country and the number of titles in each region were all over the map. Lately, we’ve noticed less complaints in international markets, and these growing subscriber numbers abroad seem to signal that Netflix is figuring it out.

How about you? Do you subscribe to Netflix, Comcast or both? Let us know in the comments!

  • vatament37

    Apples and oranges. Netflix is available in almost every country in the world. Comcast is available in some parts of one country: the United States.

    • Further, lots of cable subscribers will also have Netflix, and verce visa.

    • Emacs

      Why not add bitter taste of limes also? People all over the world are clamoring for Netflix while Comcast subscribers are constantly looking for ways to cut the chord.

      • truthbeatold

        While your comment regarding Netflix and Comcast may be true it doesn’t invalidate the previous commenter’s point.

        • Copter Fury

          Agreed, however his comment does add something to the conversation if you’ve never experienced the pure horror that is Comcast customer support, truth be told.

          • Coley Ferguson

            DEATH TO COMCAST !!! One of the worst experiences of my life.

        • Emacs

          truthbeatold, I didn’t know your comprehension accounted for “add” as invalidation.

          • truthbeatold

            You’re right! I misinterpreted your intention with that line. I stand corrected.

    • Kermit

      Not really. Why can’t Comcast compete globally? I mean…besides the obvious reason that they suck

      • ktappe

        Because countries other than the U.S. (justifiably) have anti-monopoly laws. Comcast would have to compete head-to-head with other companies and actually (shriek) provide good customer service. Since they don’t know how to do that, the only way they can survive is in the anti-competitive U.S. market where cities allow them to be the customers’ only choice.

        • al

          On the 4uckin money with that one ktappe

  • Comcast is a multiple channel provider it offers multiple channels in packages and premium channels. It would make much more sense to compare Netflix to HBO or some other similar service.

    Comcast needs THEIR wired infrastructure present to get Comcast service. Netflix can use any internet / cellular provider.

    Plus, people add Netflix when they might already have cable (including Comcast.

    • Emacs

      Also its fun to talk to Netflix customer service. For Comcast, I usually put it off until after the root canal.

    • JusandJess Hoffman

      Netflix isn’t a Service like HBO.. it has tons of on-demand tv series, movies, everything it’s better to compare it to “Stars” or whatever that old channel was that had different movies ready to go for you.. except WAY cheaper and tens of thousands of shows/ movies. It is actually more accurate to compare Netflix to Comcast or other TV/Movie providers out there than it is to one channel that has like 2 good shows going for it. Netflix is to cable like Wal-Mart is to small businesses. mostly anybody I know under 30 have no cable and have Netflix, hulu, amazon prime. because once you’re threre, you realize that cable is the thing of the past and doesn’t give you what you want, when you want it like internet does.
      The exception to the rule: if you live in a crappy non-internet place… then Cable may be your only option. I’m sorry for you, if you are in this area.

      • I meant more like HBO Now (or HBO Go), it’s got all the movies and streaming and shows they made.

        My point is it’s NOTHING like a whole cable network…

        Do you think there are many places with cable that don’t have internet? (This is a question, not sarcasm).

  • Ray Kenny

    I cut the cord last month.

    • Phil

      I cut the cord more than 10 years ago. Best thing I ever did

      • al

        I cut the cord and now I’m in the hospital. Forgot to unplug it first.

        • Malatrope

          Wrong cord. That was your TV.

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  • JusandJess Hoffman

    I have never paid for cable.. or a “landline” or used checks.. I’m 31. Hulu/Amazon Prime/ Netflix.. all add up to like 30 bucks a month, and with my smart tv and 200mb down internet, we stream anything we want, whenever we want. why in the world would I need cable? Plus I have a HD antenna I got for 60 bucks at Wal-Mart and I pick up high def channels in my area, about 21 of them.. local news and everything (I mainly just use it for the superbowl). cable is a thing of the past, and has been for at least 10 years for me. I am still in awe at how people have it at their house and I’m like, do you have this show or lets put on Dexter and they’re like.. “let me check the guide to see if it’s on”. lol dude, it’s ALWAYS ready to go with the three subs I mentioned earlier.. Cable is a waste of time and money along with landlines, they are pointless.

    • Sudhir Jobanputra

      Hi Jusandjess Hoffman. I want to do what you are doing. So you siad Hulu/amazon Prime/Netflix costs your around $30.00 a month. What is your Internet bill. Thx

    • Emacs

      Good for you. But I think not having dealt with cable TV customer service is like cheating. It seems every human must be sentenced to deal with them at least once.

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  • al

    LifeProTip: if you’re gonna “cut the cord”, unplug it first.

  • Thomas Groce

    A government backed monopoly that offers a subpar product w/ terrible customer service and is overpriced and full of ads being less profitable than Netflix? OMG Alert everyone. This is such a surprise……….

  • Mark N

    netflix just needs to get sports

  • Scooter

    Netflix is a choice, Comcast is a lack of one.

  • MyD

    happy to give up the awful comcast this month! commercials eat up WAY too much time. Network shows are terrible. I’ve had netflix for 20 years, never been happier!

  • Downhomedude

    I have both. I like Comcast Xfinity service – plus for my Netflix/streaming feed it is best to use Comcast internet for super fast load times, etc. Comcast On Demand rocks and whatever they dont have there is a solid chance I can find it on Netflix, or vice versa. Winning!

    TL:DR – I have Xfinity Internet for Netflix, it is a relative inexpensive additional cost to add Xfinity service as well.