Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.
Netflix reported its Q2 2021 earnings this week, and considering the most critical metric of U.S. and Canada subscriber additions/losses, the company did very well. Sure, it lost 430K subscribers, reversing a big Q2 2020 Covid gain, and also tripled its 130K loss from Q2 2019. But it could have been a whole lot worse if post-Covid churn had spiked which would have sent Wall Street into a tizzy.
After reviewing the numbers, Colin and I zero in on the fact that while Netflix has numerous revenue expansion opportunities, it seems uninterested in any of them. In fact, the theme of this quarter’s earnings conference call was Netflix’s 100% focus on SVOD. It has no plans to make money from its new video gaming service. Live sports is still mainly off the table. The new commerce extension won’t generate anything material. And a lower-priced advertising-supported tier? Well the analyst/moderator didn’t even ask about it.
Colin and I are really scratching our heads. It’s like Netflix’s management took a sacred oath: “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.”
For my part I’m growing weary of these “religious” responses. I have been doggedly saying Netflix needs to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier for ages. The CTV ad business in the U.S. alone in 2021 will be $13B, going to at least $28B in 2025. As the biggest player in brand-safe streaming, Netflix has an automatic claim on a portion of this revenue. Perhaps most important, there is simply no other catalyst as sizable for Netflix’s top and bottom lines. But it won’t entertain the option, asserting in the past that it will diminish the user experience, though it hasn’t provided any meaningful backup to support its position.
There’s a lot to be said for staying focused, but in our view, this is getting a little bit ridiculous.
Please let us know what you think!
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