Buoyed by higher-than-expected growth figures and by recent results showing a 72% jump in net profits during the fourth quarter of 2014, Netflix confirmed Tuesday that, by the end of next year, it will expand its online video streaming to 200 countries worldwide in a move that is expected to result in “material global profits” by 2017.  

News of the planned expansion came as online streaming rival Amazon announced its own plan to produce films for the big screen and to produce a new online television series to be written and directed by Woody Allen.  Netflix—which began in 1997 as a mail-order DVD rental service and has since gone on to win acclaim for the production of original online TV shows that include House of Cards and Orange is the New Black—operates in 50 countries as well as in the U.S.  During the last quarter, Netflix exceeded analyst expectations by adding 2.4 million subscribers in its international markets and 1.9 million in the U.S. to bring its total membership to 57.4 million.  Fourth quarter net profits, meanwhile, surged from $48.4 million to $83.4 million, representing a net increase of 56-cents per share.

During a press interview, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings related how his company became encouraged by the profitable performance of its first set of international markets in Canada, Scandinavia and Latin America.  Last fall, Netflix launched service in France, Germany and in four other European countries, and the company intends to add customers in Australia and New Zealand by the end of March.  Asserting, “the ability to click and watch and binge episodes has really resonated with people,” Hastings told reporters:  “it has made us realize this is very likely to work on a global basis.”