Following a record-breaking 2020, Netflix’s subscription growth has slowed dramatically so far this year. The company says that has everything to do with the Covid-19 pandemic, and nothing to do with increased streaming competition from the likes of Disney.
Netflix added just 4 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 (pdf), well short of the 6 million that both Wall Street and the company itself expected, Netflix said as it reported its earnings yesterday. Over the same period last year, Netflix added a record 15.8 million global subscribers, which it attributed to home confinement during the early stages of the pandemic. The service now boasts more than 200 million members around the world.
But most Netflix subscribers are less confined at home than they were at this time last year. And many of those whom Netflix hoped would someday sign up already did so in 2020. The company cited that “pull-forward” effect for the disappointing quarter, arguing 2020 stole what would have been 2021’s customers. Netflix also blamed Covid-related production delays for causing a “lighter” than usual (read: less compelling) content slate, which contributed to the relative lack of new subscribers.
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