Streaming service Netflix overturned the traditional hierarchy in global media and has established a new model for entertainment consumption. Legacy media companies have been scrabbling for the past several years to adapt to the same model. Originally launched in 1997 as a mail order DVD rental company, Netflix reinvented itself in the late 2000s as an internet broadcaster streaming on-demand movie and TV content to monthly subscribers. Its most significant breakthrough was the move into proprietary content, commissioning high-quality scripted drama and comedy - such as the series 'House Of Cards' and 'Orange Is The New Black' - which would be available exclusively to its own subscribers. As a result, it became the main global rival to Time Warner-owned HBO, far surpassing that mainly US-based service by 2015. Netflix's now-massive budget for commissioning or buying content - around $14bn in 2020 - is far above any traditional Hollywood studio. At the same time the company has expanded its global footprint, initially in Latin America and then Europe and Asia, to cover 190 global markets. Helped by stay-at-home restrictions during the Covid pandemic, the Netflix audience soared to 203.7m streaming members by the end of 2020. Of these, almost 74m were in North America, nearly 67m in EMEA and almost another 63m in Latin America and Asia combined. The UK and Brazil were the company's biggest foreign markets by mid 2019. Several challenges have emerged since 2018, not least competition from Disney's own streaming service, which deprived Netflix of some important content, including major Disney, Marvel and 20th Century Studios movie releases, as well as similar services from WarnerMedia, Apple and others. That competition was partly offset - to the benefit of all the streamers - by the Covid pandemic which created a new spike in demand for home entertainment during 2020. Netflix also ramped up its own production budget, and delivered a succession of new content in all its global markets during the year. Several of these shows came to dominate the popular culture conversation. Nine of the top ten most searched TV shows worldwide on Google during 2020 were Netflix series, including such massive global hits as 'Tiger King' and 'The Queen's Gambit', followed by 'Bridgerton', 'Lupin' and especially 'Squid Game' in 2021. However, subscriber growth slowed dramatically as the pandemic began to ease, especially in North America. Netflix ended 2021 with 221.8m subscribers, but then reported its first global decline for more than a decade in Q1 2022 to 221.6m. Revenues for 2021 came in at $29.7bn, with net income of $5.1bn. Co-founder Reed Hastings remains CEO of Netflix. According to company legend, he first decided to launch the company after he was fined $40 by original video rental giant Blockbuster for the late return of the movie 'Apollo 13'. Ted Sarandos is chief content officer, responsible for commissioning new content, and added the title of co-CEO in 2020.
Capsule checked 20th January 2021
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Marketer Moves 14th Jul 2022: New VP marketing EMEA TBC at Netflix. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Update 14th Jul 2022: After auditioning several different technology giants including Comcast and Google, Netflix picked Microsoft as its partner to develop a lower-cost, advertising supported subscription model. The streaming giant hopes to boost waning subscriber growth with a cheaper option that is expected to book end (rather than interrupt) content with video ads. "It's very early days and we have much to work through," said Netflix COO Greg Peters. "But our long term goal is clear. More choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers." The former Google and AOL chief Tim Armstrong commented "Microsoft just moved from supporting character in advertising to a main character." A key factor in the selection of Microsoft appears to be the fact that, unlike Comcast and Google, it has no plans to compete in streamed entertainment. It boosed its video advertising capabilities last year with the purchase of the Xandr platform from AT&T.
Adbrands Update 20th Apr 2022: Netflix shares crashed to a four-year low after the markets closed following 1Q results that showed the streamer's first decline in subscribers since 2011. It had forecast a gain of 2.5m global subscribers for the quarter; instead it reported a 200,000 net decline to 221.6m subscribers. That includes the loss of 700,000 subscribers in Russia, where Netflix suspended service as a result of the war in Ukraine. It is now forecasting an even bigger decline for the current quarter to 219.6m. The group's three main regions of UCAN (US & Canada), EMEA and LATAM were all down in Q1, with only APAC reporting continuing growth. Nevertheless, revenues hit a best-ever $7.9bn, with net income of almost $1.6bn. The group blamed password sharing as a key factor: "In addition to our 222m paying households, we estimate that Netflix is being shared with over 100m additional households, including over 30m in the UCAN region. Account sharing as a percentage of our paying membership hasn't changed much over the years, but [combined with the wider availability of other entertainment sources] means it's harder to grow membership in many markets." It acknowledged the growth of rival streaming services, but quoted Nielsen figures which showed Netflix still has a growing share of US TV watching - up to 6.4% in Feb 22 from 6% in May 21 - and a clear lead over any other streaming service, including YouTube. Netflix also said it was considering the introduction of a lower-price subscription offer that would include advertising for the first time, and is also testing a model that would allow password-sharing among family members.
Marketer Moves 4th Mar 2022: New CMO at Netflix. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Update 21st Jan 2022: Netflix's subscriber growth slowly dramatically in the final quarter of 2021. The company blamed "ongoing Covid overhang": the fact that viewers are now more willing and able than they were in 2020 to separate themselves from their TV couches. Total subscribers grew 9% in the year to 221.8m, but by only 4% in the final quarter. Netflix warned subscriber growth in 1Q 22 could be as low as just 1%. That prompted a sharp markdown in the company's share price. Another development during the quarter will be the likely replacement of North America (which Netflix calls UCAN) by EMEA as the company's biggest region by subscribers. EMEA ended 2022 at 74.0m paid subscribers, up 5% on Q3, while UCAN was up only 1.6% to 75.2m.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Oct 2021: The enormous - but wholly unexpected - popularity of Korean thriller 'Squid Game' helped Netflix to add more users than it had expected in 3Q 2021, lifting total subscribers to almost 214m. Growth in North America continues but at a slower rate than international markets, to just over 74m households. The full impact of 'Squid Game's popularity has yet to be felt - it was only realeased a couple of weeks before the end of the quarter - but has since then become the service's most popular ever, attracting the attention so far of 142m households, overtaking past champions 'Bridgerton' and 'The Queen's Gambit'. It is currently the most watched show in 94 countries.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Sep 2021: Fresh from its Emmys triumph, Netflix sealed the deal to acquire the Roald Dahl Story Company, which holds the rights to all that author's immensely popular children's novels. Netflix plans to begin making multiple new adaptations for its platform, and will also diversify into games, theatrical events and consumer products. A 'Charlie & The Chocolate Factory' TV series is already in the pipeline, as is a filmed adaptation of 'Matilda The Musical'.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Sep 2021: Streaming platforms finally received the accolades long denied them by Television Academy voters. After several years in which they picked up multiple nominations for the Emmys but few trophies, Netflix and Apple were rewarded this year with top awards in all the major categories. 'The Crown' was named Best Drama - a first for any streaming series - and also collected seven trophies for acting, writing and directing. Another Netflix show, 'The Queen's Gambit', was Best Limited Series. AppleTV collected several awards including Best Comedy for 'Ted Lasso'. HBO - the usual recipient of most major prizes - didn't go home empty-handed, with several top awards for 'Mare of Easttown'.
Marketer Moves 22nd Jun 2021: New VP editorial & publishing at Netflix. See Marketer Moves (members only).
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