Streaming company Netflix saw its share price slide over 10% yesterday after it revealed Q2 results that showed it had badly missed its targets. Netflix had projected that it would add 5 million global subscribers over the period but fell well short of that with only 2.7 million new members attracted. It is also a massive fall on the 5.5 million news subscribers added over the same quarter last year.
Another metric that shocked investors and analysts was that for the first time since it separated its DVD-by-post and streaming businesses in 2011, Netflix saw a net loss of U.S. subscribers. The company finished the quarter with 130,000 less paying customers in its domestic market than it started with.
For many investors and analysts, Netflix has always seemed like the odd one out of the FAANG stocks that have dominated Wall Street for the past decade. Certainly the junior component in terms of size and revenues but also for the fact that it has never quite felt like Netflix had the same kind of grip on the television and film streaming market as Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google (Alphabet) have on their core markets.
The company has put the disappointing quarter down to a combination of price rises and a quiet period for the kind of popular new releases that tend to drive subscription growth. It believes that, as has happened in the past when the company has had a weak quarter, the third quarter will be stronger to compensate. Last year the company also missed its targets in Q2, leading to a similar share price slump, but came roaring back in Q3. With new seasons of hit shows such as Stranger Things, The Crown and Orange is the New Black arriving over the quarter Netflix will be hoping history repeats.
However, investors are also concerned how Netflix will cope with the growing competition in the streaming market. Large cash-rich media and content producers such as Disney, Apple and AT&T’s Warner Media are poised to launch their own content streaming platforms on a similar subscription model to Netflix’s. As well as increasing competition more generally, another result of that is that they are pulling their content IP from Netflix to offer it exclusively on their rival platforms. Friends and The Office, the two most watched shows on the platform, will no longer be available and Disney content falls into the same category.
Netflix is investing heavily in its own exclusive film and television content. An example being the upcoming film The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The company says not having to pay for expensive rights for Friends and The Office will increase its own budget. But the market is becoming increasingly fractured and a large part of the appeal of Netflix was that it offered subscribers access to a broad catalogue of the most popular television shows and films. A fractured market of streaming platforms that focus on their own content seems like a step back towards the old days for consumers and makes it less obvious that Netflix will retain its position at the top of the table.
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