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Analysis for 'Netflix'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #498: All the Reasons (and Math) For Why Netflix Will Get Squeezed in 2020

    I’m pleased to present the 498th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast, we do a deep dive into Netflix’s Q4 ’19 results (reported earlier this week), and what they imply for 2020. Colin mostly focuses his comments on the decelerating growth rate in international subscriber additions and the ARPU squeeze that’s coming this year.

    My focus is on the all-important domestic or “UCAN” (U.S. + Canada) region. Based solely on Netflix’s prior results and its own Q1 ’20 global subscriber addition forecast of 7 million, I think there’s at least a 50-50 chance Netflix will lose subscribers in UCAN in Q1 ’20. Just two years ago, this would have been an unimaginable thing to say; remember in Q1 ’18 it gained 2.28 million U.S. subscribers and in Q1 ’19 it gained 1.74 million.

    That’s all before talking about Q2 ’20 where it will almost certainly lose UCAN subscribers, at a multiple of the 130K it lost in Q2 ’19, given the new competitive landscape. Netflix really needs to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier, but yet again Netflix management rejected the idea, this time for inexplicable reasons.

    Add it all up and Netflix is in for a bumpy ride in 2020. Meanwhile, since announcing its results on Tuesday after the market’s close, Netflix stock is up over $30 (about 10%, or around $15 billion extra market capitalization), once again proving that speculators simply can’t quit the stock regardless of the company’s actual performance or prospects.
     
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  • Netflix’s Q4: Cold Hard Reality in the U.S. Sets In

    Netflix reported its Q4 ’19 and full year results yesterday, exposing the cold hard reality it is facing in the U.S. While the company gained 8.8 million subscribers globally (ahead of its 7.6 million forecast), it gained just 420K in the U.S. specifically (compared to 600K forecast). To put the 420K into more context, it’s by far the lowest Q4 US sub add since Q4 ’11 following the Qwikster debacle. It’s the first time since then that U.S. sub additions have fallen below 1 million in the seasonally strong Q4. And it’s down a whopping 79% vs. just 2 years ago, in Q4 ’17 when Netflix added 1.98 million U.S. subscribers.

    Now some will say the “law of large numbers” is catching up with Netflix and that’s true to an extent; it’s a lot harder to add a million subscribers off a base of 60 million than it is off a base of 20 million. But this explanation just scratches the surface of what’s happening now at Netflix.

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  • “Peak TV” and Why Many Entertainment-Oriented Cable TV Networks Will Morph Into Studios in the Long-Term

    There was nothing surprising when I read last week’s coverage of FX CEO John Landgraf’s tally of original productions in 2019. According to Landgraf, the number of original dramas, comedies and limited series across all SVOD and TV networks in the U.S. reached a new high of 532 (approximately what he previously predicted). That was up from 495 in 2018, 487 in 2017 and just 182 in the pre-SVOD days of 2002.

    This dynamic, which Landgraf has dubbed “Peak TV,” is leading many, if not most, ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks onto a road to nowhere if their goal is to remain ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks in the long-term. What is far more likely is that being this type of network will become unviable and so they’ll morph into studios that provide premium original and library content, mostly for bigger platforms (e.g. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, etc.) and sometimes for their parent companies’ direct-to-consumer OTT services.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #495: The Top 10 Video Stories of 2019

    I’m pleased to present the 495th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    In today’s podcast, our final one for 2019, Colin and I share our top 10 video stories of the year. Whether you agree or disagree with our top 10 (or the ordering), no doubt we can all agree it’s been quite an eventful year for the industry. But as busy as 2019 has been, 2020 is setting up to be a year of even more innovation and change.

    As always, Colin and I have had a ton of fun discussing all of the industry’s happenings each week, and we hope you enjoyed following along throughout the year.

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  • Why Netflix Will Launch an Ad-Supported Tier in 2020

    A question that has been following Netflix since the beginning of time is whether the SVOD giant would ever include advertising. Netflix management has consistently responded “no” and emphasized that their viewers expect an ad-free experience. Saying this so many times has created the perception that Netflix’s opposition to advertising is “religious” (i.e. so core to its brand/strategy/user experience that deviation simply isn’t possible) that no logic to the contrary will prevail.

    But looking ahead to the new decade and the vastly different industry dynamics that are unfolding, I think there are many reasons why religion is finally going to give way to business imperatives. For anyone already saying, “no, no I just don’t believe Netflix could undergo such a conversion,” keep in mind the intense objection Steve Jobs had to subscription music. Then came Spotify’s incredible growth and in 2015, Apple Music was launched (note, Tim Cook took over as CEO in 2011, just prior to Jobs's death).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #487: Digging Into Netflix’s Path Forward

    I’m pleased to present the 487th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Netflix reported its Q3 ’19 results this week, the last quarter before the onslaught of new SVOD competition begins from Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock, among others.

    In this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss the Q3 results, which were strong internationally and decent in the U.S. (better than Q2 ’19, but still well down from Q2 ’18 and below Netflix’s own forecast). But we focus mainly on where things go from here.

    We agree that the days of Netflix’s robust U.S. growth are almost certainly over. But we also think Netflix’s content remains highly competitive and international could continue expanding strongly in the short-term, depending on how quickly Disney+ rolls out to other geographies. In short, there is a lot of uncertainty given all the new choices coming to market.

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  • Netflix Reports Solid Q3 Results But Uncertainty Lies Just Ahead

    Netflix investors breathed a sigh of relief after yesterday’s Q3 '19 earnings report. The company missed its subscriber forecast of 7 million subscriber addition, but only narrowly by a few hundred thousand. Netflix added 500K subscribers in the U.S. vs. its 800K forecast. That was a far better performance than Q2 when it lost 130K subscribers in the U.S. Internationally Netflix gained 6.3 million subscribers, basically in line with the 6.2 million it forecast.

    The U.S. miss was blamed mainly on an elevated churn rate that Netflix said hasn’t normalized since rate increases went into effect earlier this year. The good news is the higher rates translated into 16.5% increase in average revenue per unit in Q3.

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  • As Disney Moves Into SVOD, It is Navigating New Terrain

    Last week, the WSJ ran two articles that underscore how Disney is navigating new terrain as it prepares to launch Disney+ in November. The articles also showcase how convoluted relationships among major media and technology companies are going to become over fights for shifting leverage.

    One article described how Disney has continued to ban advertising from Netflix on its entertainment TV networks (ESPN is still ok) even though it will accept ads from other SVOD providers. The other article described Disney’s negotiations with Amazon over how much ad inventory Amazon should be allocated to sell in Disney’s apps that run on Fire TV. The article noted no deal at all has been reached for Disney+ to be carried on Fire TV, as the SVOD service’s launch date nears.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #475: Is Netflix’s Q2 ’19 Subscriber Slowdown a Short-Term Blip or Start of a Long-Term Trend?

    I’m pleased to present the 475th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Was Netflix’s Q2 ’19 subscriber slowdown a short-term blip or the start of a long-term trend? This is the question Colin and I dig into on this week’s podcast.

    This week Netflix reported its first-ever domestic streaming subscriber loss, dropping 130K paid subscribers to end the quarter with 60.1 million paid subscribers. The loss compared with a forecasted gain of 300K and a gain of 870K a year ago in Q2 ’18. And internationally, Netflix gained 2.83 million paid subscribers to end the quarter with 91.5 million subscribers, compared with a forecasted gain of 4.7 million and a gain of 4.6 million a year ago in Q2 ’18. So all in, Netflix’s global subscriber gain dropped roughly in half, from 5.45 million in Q2 ’18 to 2.7 million in Q2 ’19.

    Netflix blamed a weak Q2 content slate and to a lesser extent price increases in the U.S. and expects Q3 to return to typical growth. But Colin and I note new SVOD dynamics ahead that could scramble things such as the loss of key content like “Friends” and “The Office,” strong entrants like Disney+ and HBO Max. It’s hard to tell how it all shakes out just yet.

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  • Research: Three-Quarters of Netflix’s Top 20 Most Popular Shows are Originals

    It’s been just 6 1/2 years since Netflix debuted its breakout original series “House of Cards” and new research from MoffettNathanson and HarrisX show just how much progress the company has made since: 15 out of the top 19 most popular TV shows are now original, with the remaining 4 acquired (the research credits “movies” as the 3rd most popular).

    The most popular show is “Orange is the New Black” followed by “Stranger Things.” #4 is "Ozak" and #5 "Grace and Frankie." Of the acquired shows, “The Office” (which is moving to NBCU’s streaming service) is #9, while “Friends” (which is moving to WarnerMedia’s streaming service) is #10. “Supernatural” (#12) and “Breaking Bad” (#20) are the only other acquired shows in the top 20. Somewhat surprisingly, originals accounted for 13 of the top 19 shows on Amazon Prime Video (movies were #6). For Hulu, just 5 of its top 19 were original, with the majority of acquired shows coming from Disney/Fox (movies were #10).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #463: Disney+ Ultra Low Price Will Ripple Through SVOD

    I’m pleased to present the 463rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The SVOD industry’s dynamics are harder than ever to predict now that Disney+ plans to come to market with a robust content offering priced at just $7 per month. So for example while Netflix reported a strong Q1 ’19, when Colin looks ahead to how Q4 ’19 or Q1 ’20 will shape up for Netflix given omnipresent promotion of Disney+ that’s coming, he sees an adverse impact on domestic subscriber additions.

    We discuss how significant the impact could be not just on Netflix but also on Apple TV+ which will come to market in late ’19 too, but have a much less competitive content offering vs. Disney+. A key question is how low must Apple TV+’s price now be to compete?

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #458: DirecTV Now Changes Packaging; Fact-Checking Netflix

    I’m pleased to present the 458th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week, DirecTV Now changed its packaging and pricing by introducing 2 new tiers, DirecTV Now Plus and DirecTV Now Max. They are both anchored by HBO, but also lose popular networks from Viacom, Discovery and AMC.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the likely rationale behind the changes and what impact they’ll have. One thing seems clear: given the spectrum of TV networks they carry, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV are poised to become leaders in the virtual pay-TV industry.

    Next, Colin updates us on several statements a Netflix executive made earlier this week that he believes need further clarity. Colin delights in “keeping them honest” and his watchdog role benefits all of us trying to understand industry data.

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  • Corporate Priorities Test Creative Freedom In “Peak TV” Era

    Large corporations’ priorities are testing creative freedom as more shows than ever compete for attention in the “Peak TV” era and video becomes a critical C-level focus. Exhibit A is Apple, which according to a report yesterday from the NY Post, is vexing creators with an abundance of suggestions (or “notes” in industry parlance) on their shows. The notes, which apparently include some from CEO Tim Cook himself, tend to emphasize Apple’s desire to keep shows “family friendly.”

    The goal makes perfect sense; nothing is more important to Apple than its brand image. The prospect of seeing an “Apple Original” icon in the opening credits, followed by an opening scene including profanity, violence or nudity, would be a jarring juxtaposition. Yet this is the “Peak TV” world we now live in; with so many shows competing for viewers’ time, those that are most original and creative, and yes, often include attention-grabbing early scenes, stand out (for a point of reference recall that in the first minutes of Netflix’s “House of Cards” pilot, Kevin Spacey’s character puts a wounded dog out of its misery with his own hands).

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  • 5 Reasons Why Netflix Will Maintain Strong Subscriber Retention Despite Boosting Rates

    Wall Street cheered last week when Netflix announced rate increases across all of its tiers. Meanwhile, analysts weighed in on how higher rates could impact subscriber retention. Coincidentally, The Diffusion Group released research detailing potential downgrades, cancellations and retention levels at $1, $3 and $5 rate increases (the breakout is at bottom and TDG head Michael Greeson concluded the new rates won’t lead to a mass exodus of Netflix subscribers).

    Obviously it’s impossible predict exactly how well subscribers will absorb the rate increases, though Netflix’s track record is very strong. From my vantage point there are at least 5 interdependent reasons to believe Netflix will weather the new round very well:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #449: Why Most Subscription Video Services Will Trend Away From DTC Model

    I’m pleased to present the 449th edition of the VideoNuze podcast (and our first of the new year!), with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss why we both believe most subscription video services will trend away from a pure direct-to-consumer (DTC) model and instead embrace large platforms for distribution. Roku’s plan to support subscription services (following Amazon Channels and Apple’s TV app) bolsters the trend.

    There are numerous benefits to third party distribution for both content providers and consumers. DTC will still have a place in go-to-market strategies, but it will become smaller, except for major players like Netflix and Hulu.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #448: The Top 10 Video Stories of 2018

    I’m pleased to present the 448th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Continuing our tradition for our final podcast of the year, this week Colin and I discuss the top 10 video stories of 2018 - at least in our humble opinions. Once again it has been a very active 12 months, with lots of innovation and change. Colin and I have had a great time analyzing and discussing the critical industry trends each week and we hope you’ve enjoyed listening to our thoughts in 2018.

    Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

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  • SVOD’s Big Night at the Emmys

    If you’re looking for more evidence of how SVOD is changing the TV landscape, look no further than last night’s Emmy Awards. The 3 big SVOD providers, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix combined to win a record 35 Emmys, up from 32 in 2017. Netflix itself won 23 Emmys, tying HBO for top honors, with Amazon winning 8 and Hulu winning 4.

    Netflix’s big winner was “The Crown” which took home 5 Emmys. All of Amazon’s awards were for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” including outstanding comedy series, lead actress (Rachel Brosnahan), supporting actress (Alex Borstein) and writing and directing for Amy Sherman-Palladino. Maisel tied with Saturday Night Live for second place behind “Game of Thrones” which won 9, including outstanding drama series.

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  • Comcast Drops Fox Bid, Foregoing A Major Opportunity With Hulu

    Comcast has officially dropped out of the bidding for the 21st Century Fox assets, clearing the path for Disney to move forward. Comcast still plans to pursue Sky in the UK. But by dropping its Fox bid, Comcast has also foregone the opportunity to take control of Hulu (by virtue of combining its 30% stake with Fox’s 30% stake). Presumably now Disney will take control of Hulu.

    I believe this is a major missed opportunity for Comcast, leaving the company under-optimized in the fast-changing premium video industry. As we all know, today’s key industry themes include the rise of cord-cutting and consumers’ move to lower cost skinny bundles, the shift to on-demand viewing, with the accompanying growth of ad-free SVOD services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), the rapid adoption of connected TV and mobile devices for viewing and the nationalization/globalization of video services, among others.

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  • Netflix is Bedeviled by Domestic Subscriber Forecasting

    Netflix reported a large miss on its subscriber forecast in Q2, with 670K net additions in the U.S. (44% below its forecast of 1.2 million) and 4.47 million net additions internationally (10% below its forecast of 5 million). From my standpoint, the international miss is almost irrelevant because the segment includes so many different countries with so many different adoption patterns that Netflix is still new to understanding. With all of those moving pieces, missing by just 10% isn’t too shabby.

    Conversely, the domestic miss of 44% is a real head-scratcher which I believe raises, yet again, real questions around how well the company understands the dynamics of the domestic SVOD market, how much growth remains and how well its forecasting function is run. For eager investors, who have bid up the stock on lofty expectations, getting a handle on these issues seems critical.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #427: HBO’s Risky Path Forward Under AT&T

    I’m pleased to present the 427th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    AT&T wants HBO to up its game - producing more content, gaining more subscribers and increasing engagement, in a bid to stay competitive in the streaming era. On today’s podcast, Colin and I explore why the new approach makes sense directionally, but also carries big risks. Can HBO scale up its production spending and broaden its distribution while retaining its brand positioning? It won’t be an easy feat.

    While AT&T isn’t highlighting Netflix as its key competitor, it’s clearly implied. And this week’s Emmy nominations, which saw HBO eclipsed for the first time in 17 years as the most honored network (by Netflix), is a clear sign of the times. Astoundingly, Netflix has gone from just 14 nominations 6 years ago to an industry-leading 112 this year.

    Beyond the HBO-Netflix content battle, Netflix continues raising the stakes on SVOD user experience. As we also dig into, this week Netflix announced “Smart Downloads,” a clever way of enhancing offline viewing, which will no doubt delight millions of its subscribers.

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