Netflix Growth Stalled in Q2 as Competitors Gained Ground and Lockdowns Lifted

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Netflix Growth Stalled in Q2 as Competitors Gained Ground and Lockdowns Lifted

Netflix lost 430,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada last quarter as its meteoric growth sputtered.

In an investor call Tuesday, the Los Gatos streaming service said it is still feeling the aftershocks of the pandemic.

"We still feel a little bit of that drag in terms of our acquisition growth as we're working through what we hope is the tail end of this COVID choppiness," said Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann.

Shares of Netflix were near flat in after-hours trading.

The company logged 1.54 million net new subscribers in the second quarter, barely surpassing its internal forecast but falling far short of last year's pandemic-fueled growth spurt.

Analysts have been questioning whether the giant could keep up its growth. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note last week that the company is "approaching market saturation in North America." Two-thirds of its customer growth this quarter came from Asia.

Third-party data show signs of Netflix's slowdown. Although it still leads the pack in JustWatch's U.S. streaming market share, Netflix has seen a notable decline since January, as competitors Disney Plus and HBO Max rise. Another market analyst, Parrot Analytics, reported record low demand share for Netflix's original films and series in the second quarter.

With nearly 210 million subscribers, Netflix remains the dominant player in streaming, but its lead is thinning and some are beginning to call for antitrust investigations.

The company has forecast subscriber growth will stabilize in the coming months as the effects of the pandemic subside.

Meanwhile Netflix's counterparts are beefing up. Amazon acquired MGM in May shortly after HBO Max and Discovery merged. Disney continues churning out proprietary franchises and more industry consolidation is in the offing, Apple, too, is using its deep pockets to expand its film-production footprint.

Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings acknowledged the steep competition that threatens to cut into audience viewing habits. But he sees room for growth across the board as audiences increasingly adopt streaming as their primary source of viewing.

"We think mostly all of streaming is a growth story competing from linear TV and that that will be true until streaming is 50, 60, 70 percent of viewing," he said, noting that recent data from Nielsen show streaming still only comprises about a quarter of total U.S. television watching.

Netflix remains wary of other forms of entertainment from social media to gaming competing for attention. In June, Netflix opened an online merchandise store and earlier this month it hired former EA and Oculus executive Mike Verdu to lead its gaming efforts. In a letter to shareholders, the company wrote that it will focus its gaming efforts on mobile devices.

"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 letter said.

Netflix also hinted at its own possible forays into acquisitions, writing that, "we don't view any assets as 'must-have' and we haven't yet found any large scale ones to be sufficiently compelling to act upon."

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Behind Her Empire: Lisa Sequino on the ‘Light Bulb’ Moment That Launched JLo Beauty

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Behind Her Empire: Lisa Sequino on the ‘Light Bulb’ Moment That Launched JLo Beauty
Lisa Sequino

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, JLo Beauty Co-founder and CEO Lisa Sequino discusses how she transitioned from her corporate career to a more entrepreneurial path.

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Henrik Fisker Says Tesla Price Cuts Haven’t Fazed Ocean Rollout

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

A Fisker electric vehicle.​
Courtesy of Fisker

Last week in the dot.LA newsletter I wrote about Tesla’s decision to slash prices by as much as 20% on their vehicles and how the decision might impact Southern California’s EV startups. I called the price cuts a “tough pill to swallow” for Fisker in particular since they would make many of Tesla’s price points more competitive with Fisker’s first production model, The Ocean.

The Ocean is currently undergoing homologation, but Henrik Fisker, the company’s CEO, confirmed to dot.LA that the company hopes the process to be completed at the end of February. From there, it could take several weeks to ship the SUVs from Austria to the United States.

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