Global Economy

Netflix misses subscriber growth and earnings expectations


Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix

Joan Cros Garcia | Corbis | Getty Images

Shares of Netflix dipped about 1% after the bell Tuesday after the company reported earnings that missed on the bottom line and subscriber additions. The company’s revenue slightly beat estimates.

  • Earnings per share (EPS): $2.97 vs $3.16 expected, according to Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $7.34 billion vs $7.32 billion expected, according to Refinitiv
  • Expected global paid net subscriber additions: 1.54 million vs 1.75 million expected, according to Factset

Analysts hadn’t been expecting a blockbuster quarter when it comes to subscriber adds, expecting 1.75 million users according to Factset. The company said it added 1.54 million users to finish the quarter with over 209 million paid memberships.

“COVID has created some lumpiness in our membership growth (higher growth in 2020, slower growth this year), which is working its way through. We continue to focus on improving our service for our members and bringing them the best stories from around the world,” the company said in a letter to investors.

Netflix said its revenue growth this past quarter came from an 11% increase in average paid streaming memberships and 8% growth in average revenue per membership.

Most eyes were on what Netflix anticipates for its third quarter. Netflix said it anticipates 3.5 million net adds, while investors had anticipated 4.87 million net subscriber additions in the third quarter, according to FactSet data. Much of the optimism comes from Netflix’s upcoming slate of content, as a large amount had been pushed back into the second half of this year and next year.

“If we achieve our forecast, we will have added more than 54m paid net adds over the past 24 months or 27m on an annualized basis over that time period, which is consistent with our pre-COVID annual rate of net additions,” the company said.

The company confirmed it was pushing into the gaming space, as well. Netflix said it views gaming as a new content category, comparing it to its expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV.

Potential games will be included in Netflix subscriptions at no additional cost, the company said. Initially, the focus will be on mobile games.

“We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games,” the company said.

The company recently hired video-game executive Mike Verdu from Facebook, where he was vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality content, as the company makes a deeper push into gaming.

Netflix is also facing pressure from tough year-over-year comparisons, since last year consumers were in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and spent much more of their time online and in need of entertainment. 

Netflix said that in its second quarter, its engagement per member household was down compared to last year, but was still up 17% compared with the second quarter of 2019.

“The pandemic has created unusual choppiness in our growth and distorts year-over-year comparisons as acquisition and engagement per member household spiked in the early months of COVID,” the company reported.

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