THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – Netflix’s subscriber growth is surging again.

That’s providing an early sign that its shift to include ads in a cheaper version of its video streaming service is helping combat tougher competition and attract cost-conscious customers grappling with inflation.

The company on Thursday disclosed a gain of 7.7 million subscribers during the October-December period, a stretch that included the debut of an ad-supported option for $7 per month.

It’s the second straight quarter of strong subscriber growth after two quarters or losses.

The company based in Los Gatos, California, also announced Thursday that its co-founder Reed Hastings is relinquishing his role as co-CEO to become executive chairman.