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Netflix predicts it will hit 200 million subscribers this year

'Project Power' netted 75 million viewers on Netflix in its first month.
Richard Lawler, @Rjcc
October 20, 2020
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PROJECT POWER (L to R) JAMIE FOXX as ART in PROJECT POWER
SKIP BOLEN/NETFLIX

Netflix has just released the results for its most recent quarter (PDF), revealing that it slightly missed its own projections, adding 2.2 million customers worldwide over the last three months instead of the 2.5 million it predicted. The company warned that this might be the case, after subscriptions spiked earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced more people to stay at home and start streaming.

Still, it’s predicting it will add some 6 million customers in Q4 of this year, which would take its worldwide total to 201 million customers. Netflix didn’t directly reference the controversy spun up over its release of Cuties, or the removal of its free trial option, but the company stated that “Retention remains healthy and engagement per member household was up solidly year over year in Q3’20.” If it hits its projections in Q4, then it will easily add more customers this year than it ever has, beating 2018’s record of 28.6 million.

According to Netflix, production on high-profile series like Stranger Things has restarted, while some of the series and movies it debuted in 2020 are strong. As measured under its new stats for viewer counts, Umbrella Academy notched 43 million watched in the first 28 days, along with 78 million for Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, and 75 million for Project Power. Looking forward to next year, Netflix is still predicting it will release more original content “year over year in each quarter of 2021.”

The Netflix execs also noted an increase in competition, with the launch of Peacock as well as Disney’s strategic realignment to focus on Disney+ and other streaming services. In the letter they said they were “thrilled” to compete with those services, while noting that linear TV, video games, TikTok and YouTube are also big draws on attention and screen time. Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and other execs will appear on the company’s quarterly video earnings call later, we’ll update this post with any relevant information that comes up.

Update: On the call, executives confirmed plans for the “Streamfest” free weekend that brings to mind HBO’s long-running free weekend promotions. Chief product officer Greg Peters said they would try it in India, and that it could “really create an event” that might incentivize samplers to sign up.

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