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What’s next for Netflix?

July 19, 2021, 9:10 PM UTC

All eyes will be on Netflix when it reports earnings on Tuesday and how the deluge of new streaming rivals is undermining its subscriber growth.

Netflix isn’t racking them up like it used to with Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and a dozen or so others now in the mix.

In April, Netflix said it had gained 4 million paid subscribers, a big shortfall from the 6.2 million that analysts had anticipated. Even more alarming, the company said it would add only one million subscribers in the about-to-be-reported quarter. 

The combination of bad news sent Netflix’s shares plummeting nearly 11% in after-hours trading. They’ve since mostly recovered.

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts noted recently that Netflix’s projected one million global subscriber additions represents the “lowest quarterly level” of growth since the company’s fourth quarter of 2011—almost 10 years ago. One reason, according to analysts: “pent-up demand for outdoor entertainment,” meaning that Netflix is competing with a glorious summer during which people are ungluing themselves from their screens after months of hunkering indoors because of the pandemic.

Still, the Bloomberg analysts believe that new seasons of Netflix shows like Witcher and Cobra Kai will eventually help attract new subscribers starting in the fourth quarter, carrying into 2022. During the pandemic, new show production was slowed, causing a dearth of new content to keep subscribers happy.

J.P. Morgan analysts said in a note that they expect Netflix to add 1.2 million subscribers in the latest quarter, while other investors they talked to suspect it’s 1.5 to 1.7 million. That said, J.P. Morgan, like the Bloomberg Intelligence analysts, said that upcoming Netflix exclusives like the movie The Kissing Booth 3, which debuts in August, will help reaccelerate growth.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s recent expansion into new areas like games and live events an effort to offset its slower growth elsewhere.

Earlier in July, for instance, Netflix hired Mike Verdu, previously an executive at Facebook and Electronic Arts, as vice president of game development. The company has also been taking pitches from podcast producers in an effort to build a big podcast business, according to The Los Angeles Times. And Netflix is considering adding live events inspired by hit shows, like a formal ball held in London that’s based on its Shondra Rhimes-produced period drama Bridgerton, according to a The Hollywood Reporter report.

Indeed, these new businesses may eventually be lucrative, but they’re unlikely to make much impact in the near future.

Until then, investors will be scrutinizing Netflix’s subscriber numbers, as they always do.

Jonathan Vanian 
@JonathanVanian
jonathan.vanian@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Sorry I misspoke. President Joe Biden clarified earlier comments he made about Facebook indirectly “killing people” by failing to stop COVID-19 misinformation on its services, according to ABC News. "Facebook isn't killing people,” Biden told reporters during a media briefing. Instead, he singled out a few individuals who “are out there giving misinformation” as the problem, saying that the “bad information” is “killing people.” The president then added: "My hope is that Facebook—instead of taking it personal—that somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation—the outrageous misinformation—about the vaccine. That's what I meant." Facebook earlier publicly criticized the Biden Administration for saying it was responsible for lower-than expected COVID-19 vaccination rates.

China’s big Microsoft hacking scheme. The Biden Administration said the Chinese government was responsible for a massive data breach involving Microsoft’s popular Office email software, The New York Times reported. Microsoft previously said that hackers linked to the Chinese Ministry of State Security had exploited bugs in the company’s software.“The United States accused China for the first time of paying criminal groups to conduct large-scale hackings, including ransomware attacks to extort companies for millions of dollars, according to a statement from the White House,” the Times report said.

Zoom’s big deal. Zoom Video Communications said it would buy business software company Five9 for $14.7 billion as it pushes into selling software to call center providers. Zoom had a breakout year during the pandemic as both businesses and consumers used its video conferencing to talk with employees and families. The company now aims to also sell call center technology and grow its business with the pandemic subsiding and more people returning to the office.

Robinhood wants to go big. Robinhood is seeking a market valuation of nearly $35 billion as part its planned initial public offering, CNBC reported, citing a regulatory filing. The financial trading app will attempt to sell shares at a range of $38 to $42, the report said. Robinhood is expected to go public next week.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Together “we” sink. The peculiar father-son relationship between Masayoshi Son, the chief of Japanese tech conglomerate and investor Softbank, and Adam Neumann, the embattled former CEO of the office startup WeWork, is explored in an adapted excerpt from a new book about WeWork by a pair of The Wall Street Journal reporters. The book excerpt, which ran in the Journal, describes how Son consistently egged Neumann to think big and “crazy” about WeWork’s potential growth plans. Indeed, Neumann took Son’s advice to heart, coming up with outrageous strategies intended to help WeWork reach a valuation of $10 trillion, “more than 10 times the price tag of Apple.”

From the excerpt:  

But playing a starring role in WeWork’s rise and fall was the relationship between the two entrepreneurs, Mr. Son and Mr. Neumann. The pair often relied on erratic decision making as they made highly consequential decisions with billions of dollars—decisions that ultimately paved the way for WeWork’s implosion.

It was a mix of mentor and disciple, competitive rivalry, and some father-and-son dynamics—resulting in a battle of one upmanship that left both men humiliated and furious with each other, said former and current employees of WeWork and SoftBank.

Today, the company is still grappling with the hangover. Now worth $8 billion, down from $47 billion, WeWork is on track to go public, this time through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. It exited some leases taken on by Mr. Neumann with SoftBank’s money but must still absorb an enormous amount of office space. Occupancy is at a once-unthinkable 53%.

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BEFORE YOU GO

And you thought cryptocurrences were overvalued. An unnamed person has spent $1.5 million on a pristine cartridge of the 1996 video game Super Mario 64, the BBC reported. The report said that the jaw-dropping amount topped the $870,000 someone spent on “an original Legend of Zelda cartridge, set just two days before." Supposedly, there are only "fewer than five" original copies of Super Mario 64 that are in as good of condition as the one that sold during the event by Heritage Auctions, the report said.

From the report: While many modern gamers feel it has not aged particularly well and is widely thought to have significant camera issues, it is still considered among the best video games ever made. Heritage Auctions, the company behind the sale, was taken by surprise at the huge price it eventually attracted.

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