OPEN APP
Home / Industry / Media /  Netflix annual subscriber additions decline 50%, price drops pave way for India growth

Netflix annual subscriber additions decline 50%, price drops pave way for India growth

Netflix saw net additions decline by more than 50% to 18 million in 2021 compared with 37 million a year ago. (Photo: Reuters)Premium
Netflix saw net additions decline by more than 50% to 18 million in 2021 compared with 37 million a year ago. (Photo: Reuters)

  • Last month, Netflix slashed rates by 18-60% across plans in India, in an effort to woo wider audiences and deepen penetration. The move sets the stage for greater competition among foreign giants including Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video 

Listen to this article

NEW DELHI: American streaming service Netflix Inc. added 8.3 million subscribers globally in the December quarter on the back of its blockbuster Korean television series Squid Game, along with two big film releases: Don’t Look Up and Red Notice.

However, overall, the service that has clocked 222 million paid memberships worldwide saw net additions in 2021 decline by more than 50% to 18 million, compared to 37 million in 2020. The company follows a January-December accounting year.

In the Asia-Pacific region, large parts of which continue to see disruption because of covid-19, the platform increased paid memberships by 2.6 million compared with 2 million in the year-ago quarter, Netflix said. This came on the back of a strong growth in both Japan and India, it said.

“In the quarter, we saw big local viewing for titles such as Love is Blind from Brazil, My Name from Korea, super hero film Minnal Murali from India, and Danish thriller The Chestnut Man. Over the years, we’ve learned that big hits can come from anywhere in the world (with great subtitles and dubbing), as we’ve seen with La Casa de Papel, Squid Game, and Lupin to name just a few. However, our goal with non-English originals is to first and foremost thrill audiences in their home country," the company said in a note to its shareholders while announcing the fourth-quarter results late on Thursday.

The dystopian Squid Game, a late third-quarter release, which broke through globally early in the fourth quarter, generated 1.65 billion viewing hours in its first four weeks, the letter said. The fourth quarter also featured the conclusion of La Casa de Papel, or Money Heist, which has been viewed for 6.7 billion hours over its lifetime and has now launched a Korean adaptation, Money Heist: Korea—Joint Economic Area.

Last month, Netflix slashed rates by 18-60% across plans in India to woo wider audiences and deepen penetration. The move sets the stage for greater competition among foreign giants, including Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, which have so far led in terms of subscriber count with all players now evidently focusing on volume rather than value.

Netflix’s mobile-only plan, earlier priced at 199 per month, will now come for 149. The basic plan, which allows access to all content on any one device, will now cost 199 versus 499.

“I think it follows a whole set of activities that we’ve been doing in India over the years that we’ve been operating there and learning more about Indian consumers’ tastes. At the core of it is the content and us seeking to provide a range of programming that is attractive to more people in India," Greg Peters, chief operating officer and chief product officer at Netflix said during an earnings call.

“We felt it was the right time to decrease our prices there, to increase accessibility to the incremental value or features that we’ve been trying to deliver in the market to more Indian consumers. We also wanted to do it not just like we did with mobile, which is a good lower entry price point, but across the range of plans that we had under the theory that some of those features such as the ability to watch on TV with a basic plan really unlocks more value in the service and therefore, would create more retention, more attractiveness to those plan types for those Indian consumers," Peters said.

The platform hopes that while it lowers average revenue per member through cheaper plans, it would make up for it in more subscriber additions, Peters said. He called it still “very early in looking at India" but that “the early data…very much supports a positive read on that lens of revenue maximization through these changes."

“It is about $3 per month per household. So (that makes for) radically different pricing than the rest of the world, which does impact consumer expectations," Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and chairman, said during the call. “The thing that frustrates us is why haven’t we been as successful in India, but we’re definitely leaning in there," he said.

The company is quite bullish that India isn’t fundamentally different in a way that it can’t figure out how to tailor its service offering to be attractive to Indian consumers who love entertainment, Peters said. “We know that for sure. That gives us a lot of optimism just to continue to work away at it," he said.

The company has announced local productions in collaboration with popular actors and directors in India such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Heeramandi), Vishal Bhardwaj (Khufiya), Zoya Akhtar (an Archie Comics adaptation), Madhuri Dixit (Finding Anamika), and Kapil Sharma, besides second seasons of hits such as Mismatched, Masaba Masaba, and Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives.

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.
Close
Recommended For You
×
Edit Profile
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout