For a solid portion of the year 2020, circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic forced populations all over the world to stay indoors. Unless working essential jobs that were not shut down, or having arrangements to work for closed offices from home, many were left with limited choices for activities at home. But if they had access to both the internet and streaming media platforms like Netflix, then waiting out the pandemic last year tended to become binge-watch sessions spanning days and even weeks. And Netflix definitely came out strong because of the demand, as the latest stat records indicate.
The Verge tells us that global streaming giant Netflix has recently passed a milestone in terms of worldwide subscribers. About 203.6 million subs from all parts of the world where the platform is available would definitely be nothing to sneeze at. This was thanks to the wave of new paid net subscribers jumping onto the Netflix bandwagon for 2020 Q4: 8.5 million, following a dismal Q3 add of just 2.2 million. The company’s earnings report boasted annual revenue of $25 billion that year. Things seem to be looking up, but Netflix has expressed more cautionary predictions, going further into 2021.
For example, where the streaming juggernaut initially saw 15.8 million new subs in Q1 2020 (even accounting for the beginning of the COVID scare and lockdowns), this year they are expect paid net subscriptions to increase by perhaps 6 million. There are several reasons, ranging from the wait for new content (like additional seasons of popular Netflix original series). Another is the increasing competition from rival digital platforms, many of them with exclusive content of their own. Disney+ has begun rolling out its new exclusive shows that were promised from its launch. Ditto for HBO Max (WarnerMedia) and Peacock (NBCUniversal).
As Netflix continues its pioneering lead in being the easy choice for streaming subscribers this year, it is facing more formidable challenges from both high-profile competition and the continuing uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. But a letter to their shareholders show that the service is still confident in their direction, namely in bringing in exciting new content (“Cobra Kai”) and continuing shows that are consistently drawing views (“The Crown” among many others). As the Netflix shareholder letter goes, “Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment.”Image from Wall Street Journal