Netflix’s Subscriber Growth Spotlighted Amid Easing Password-Sharing Benefits


Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) faces scrutiny over its strategy to sustain subscriber growth following two-quarters of significant increases, with analysts cautioning that the impact of a crackdown on password sharing is likely to diminish.

The streaming giant experienced its most robust growth since the onset of the pandemic in the latter part of 2023, attracting approximately 22 million new subscribers after implementing measures to limit password sharing worldwide. However, the surge resulting from this initiative is anticipated to decelerate this year, prompting attention to alternate strategies, including the introduction of an ad-supported tier and an increased emphasis on sports content.

Key Points to Consider in Netflix’s Earnings Report

Subscriptions in the March Quarter: LSEG data forecasts an addition of 5 million subscribers in the first quarter ending March, a significant rise from the 1.8 million recorded in the corresponding period last year. Despite this growth, it represents a slowdown compared to the substantial gains achieved in the last two quarters of 2023. Noteworthy Netflix originals such as “Fool Me Once” and “Griselda,” along with licensed content like “Grey’s Anatomy,” have garnered significant viewership in the U.S., as per Nielsen data. Projections for the second quarter ending June anticipate a further increase of 3.7 million subscribers.

Future of Password-Sharing Crackdown: Since its implementation in May last year, Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing has been successful, prompting similar actions from competitors like Walt Disney (DIS.N) and contributing to a 30% increase in its share price in 2024. However, analysts speculate that saturation may have been reached in the United States, although there could be room for growth in international markets such as India.

Ad-Supported Tier: With over 23 million monthly subscribers, Netflix’s ad-supported tier accounts for 30% of new sign-ups across 12 countries where it is available. Analysts anticipate further adoption of this plan, particularly after recent price hikes on commercial-free plans. The ad-supported tier not only helps in reducing churn but also presents a significant opportunity for expanding advertising revenue in the coming years.

Content Spending: Netflix plans to invest up to $17 billion in content this year, emphasizing a prudent and responsible approach. This steady investment has been instrumental in attracting subscribers, especially as competitors scale back content investments to enhance profitability. Additionally, Netflix benefits from acquiring former exclusive content from competitors, thereby reducing churn.

Sports Entertainment Strategy: Following a notable deal with World Wrestling Entertainment earlier this year to broadcast its flagship program “Raw” starting next year, Netflix’s interest in sports entertainment has deepened. This move underscores Netflix’s focus on captivating content genres without the exorbitant costs associated with traditional sports rights. Analysts view this as a financially sound decision that aligns with Netflix’s entertainment-driven approach.

Investors will closely monitor Netflix’s approach to sports content and its broader strategy as it navigates evolving market dynamics while striving to sustain growth and profitability.

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