Traders and analysts pointed to Netflix's membership forward guidance in explaining that move, but the company actually topped subscriber expectations for the year's first quarter.
The company said it gained a net 6.74 million memberships — 2.23 million in the U.S. and 4.51 million internationally. Wall Street had expected on average that Netflix would announce a 4.36 million net gain in memberships internationally and 1.77 million net adds in the U.S., according to data from StreetAccount.
"We were incredibly excited to grow to over 81 million subscribers, it's an enormous quarter for us that way," Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said during a Monday afternoon webcast. "Some of it was from our expansion around the world: It's 130 countries so there's quite a bit of variety.
Hastings added that he expects "over the next couple of years" many more international opportunities will arise as the company offers more content in local languages and accepts more forms of payment.
But looking ahead to the second quarter, Netflix said it expected 500,000 net domestic adds and a 2 million net international membership gain. Wall Street had expected 586,000 total domestic net adds, and 3.5 million internationally, according to StreetAccount.
In Netflix's Monday investor letter, the company suggested that some of its international net membership adds could have been pulled forward into the first quarter.
"International net adds are down sequentially both due to standard seasonality and our launch in 130 countries at very beginning of Q1 (so Q1 captured the initial surge of signups)," the letter said.
Responding to a question about the lighter than expected second quarter guidance, Netflix CFO David Wells said during the webcast that "you haven't yet seen sort of a normalized pattern of growth" on a year-over-year basis because of staggered international roll outs.
"From our perspective we were super happy with the results of Q1 and we wanted in Q2 that to continue, and it is," he said, adding that the company is mindful of "large blooms of launches" last year and in the first quarter of this year which addressed "pent up demand."