Netflix Loses Almost A Million Subscribers, But Is Still Optimistic

Netflix better be getting down on its knees and kissing the ground "Stranger Things" walks on because it seems like that show is almost single-handedly holding the top streamer back from falling off the edge of a cliff. According to The BBC, Netflix announced that it beat expectations and only lost around a million subscribers between April and July. "Only." But last quarter they estimated a loss of 2 million subscribers, which sent their stocks plummeting and caused a huge shake-up in the company that up to this point had only ever seen growth. So, this huge dip in subscribers is still viewed as a win by both the company and fancy pants market analysts. 

The reason for Netflix's slippage is multifaceted. For one, there's a ton more competition now. Netflix may still be the biggest fish in the pond, but other fish like Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max are getting bigger and bigger every day. They have room to grow, which is one of the problems. Netflix is so dominant that there aren't many more subscribers for them to get. In short, there's nowhere left to go but down, especially when they keep hiking their prices up and delivering quantity over quality with their movies and shows nine times out of 10.

This is why you're hearing a lot about them adding surcharges for shared accounts and adding a lower-priced ad-supported tier. It's not about gaining new subscribers anymore, it's about making the most they can out of who they still have.

Savior Things

The company has made many moves in recent days, including announcing a cap on their spending at a whopping $17 billion, which is still massive, just not the bottomless purse they've been swinging around for the last decade or so. That $17 billion is what they spent on all their content in 2021, by the way, so while it is a limitation it's doubtful we're going to see significantly fewer new movies and shows from them.

Netflix head honcho Reed Hastings thanks "Stranger Things" for helping curb the anticipated subscriber fall-off and he's not wrong. "Stranger Things" is the Mickey Mouse of Netflix right now, but they've got a big problem ... because they can't depend on those rascally kids from Hawkins forever. It'll be at least a couple of years before the fifth and final season comes out and after that, we may get spin-offs, but The Duffer Brothers have made it very clear the story of Eleven, Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, Max, Steve, Jonathan, Robin, Hopper, and Joyce ends next season. 

The simple solution is they need to keep creating original series to keep people engaged, but capturing that lightning in a bottle is easier said than done. In order to succeed at that, they'll need to get people in charge that are willing to take chances and not decide what to greenlight based on algorithms and copycat imitations of their biggest successes.

So, Netflix may have been saved by "Stranger Things" this quarter, but they're still on a knife-edge as a company with all the other eager streamers nipping at their heels. The only way out of this for them is to invest in a good product that people want to see. Sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how elusive that concept is to a lot of execs.