Netflix Lost $54 Billion Overnight

The sky is falling over at Netflix right now. The groundbreaking streamer has had a string of bad news this year and it's culminating in the company's stock value taking a massive hit. In January they posted their biggest loss after revealing they didn't hit their subscriber numbers, and now they've eclipsed that bad news with their first-quarter report of 2022 which showed they've actually lost 200,000 subscribers and expect to lose 2 million more next quarter.

Naturally, shareholders didn't much care for that news, and as stocks were sold off, the price plummeted 35.1% in a single day. That translates to $54.4 billion (with a "b") market value lost in one day. Coupled with the January hit, Netflix has lost a whopping 65% of its value as a company in the last six months.

There's a myriad of reasons why this is happening. We're fully entering a post-lockdown world where a Netflix subscription isn't as essential as it was two years ago, for one thing, while the costs of basic needs are rising across the country. There are several cheaper streaming options that seem to be more plugged into the water cooler conversation side of things, as well, like Disney+, HBO Max, and Apple TV+ which are all growing their subscriber base instead of shedding them.

The question is what will Netflix do next?

Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings has said they're planning on a few different ways to right the ship, and frankly, none of them sound like it's going to do the job. 

They're heavily considering stopping the password sharing that's been built into the service since the beginning, estimating that as many as 100 million homes are streaming Netflix this way. They're also considering a less expensive tier that would force you to watch ads.

That they think this would appeal to those who have been password sharing and might finally get them to subscribe is ridiculous. Netflix has been steadily raising its prices, and if they block password sharing all they're going to do is shed more eyeballs. 

Listen, I get it. These are people who are using the service without paying for it, but the problem is that was a feature built into Netflix from the beginning. It gave the service a lot of value if parents could let their college kids log into their account, and Netflix loved it because they were growing so quickly that all that did was help make them the behemoth they are today. Taking that away now, especially as basic subscription costs keep going up, only removes that perceived value, and like it or not, Netflix isn't the only name in town anymore. Their competition is smoking them in terms of content that people give a crap about. It's easier than ever for a disgruntled Netflix subscriber to cut that service off and get two other services for the same price they were paying for Netflix. 

All that said, Netflix is still the originator of the streaming craze and some of their biggest fish are coming back this year like "Stranger Things," so counting them out would be foolish. But I don't think it's crazy to say that the fate of the company rests on what they decide to do in the next few months. Will they grasp at every dollar they can get at the expense of devaluing the user experience or will they avoid that temptation and instead focus on giving folks a reason to stay in the form of must-see movies and series? 

That is the question.