Hindustan Times (East UP)
Netflix subscriber growth slows after pandemic boom
LOS ANGELES: Netflix Inc. said slower production of TV shows and movies during the pandemic hurt subscriber growth in the first quarter, sending shares of the world’s largest streaming service down 11% on Tuesday.
Roughly 39.8 lakh people signed up for Netflix from January through March, below the 62.5 lakh average projection of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Netflix estimated it will add just 10 lakh new streaming customers in the second quarter. Analysts had expected a forecast of nearly 48 lakh.
Shares of Netflix sunk 11% in after-hours trading to $489.28, wiping $25 billion off the company’s market capitalization. Its stock has risen 27% over the past 12 months compared with a 63% increase in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index.
Netflix said it did not believe competition changed materially in the quarter or impacted its new sign-ups “as the over-forecast was across all of our regions.” The company projected membership growth would accelerate in the second half of the year when it releases new seasons of You, Money Heist, and The Witcher and action movie Red Notice, among other titles.
A year ago, Netflix added a record 1.58 crore customers as the pandemic forced people around the world to stay home. The company said on Tuesday the pandemic hindered filming new shows.
“These dynamics are also contributing to a lighter content slate in the first half of 2021, and hence, we believe slower membership growth,” the company said in its quarterly letter to shareholders. Analysts project people will spend less time streaming from their living rooms as Covid-19 vaccinations spread and more people emerge from their homes.
Rival media companies have declared streaming their priority and are spending billions to compete with Netflix. Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ crossed 100 million subscribers in March. Netflix’s total streaming customers stood at 20.76 crore at the end of March.
Netflix’s share of new US subscribers fell to 8.5% during the quarter, down from 16.2% the same period a year ago, according to Kantar Media.