Netflix Falls Short of 2021 Subscriber Forecasts Following Lockdown Boom

After unprecedented growth in 2020, a light content slate has slowed membership growth for streaming platform Netflix as the new 2021 Q1/Q2 report reveals.

Ben Roberts, Content Director

April 21, 2021

2 Min Read
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For 18 months, those advised to stay in place leaned on Netflix to keep the family entertained and the evenings busy. Now, as global hubs push forward with vaccine programs and ease lockdown restrictions, Netflix has revealed the impact social distancing has had on its content slate, and subsequently, its membership growth.

With revenue growing 24 percent year-over-year in Q1’21, Netflix finished the quarter with 208 million paid memberships (up 14 percent year-over-year) but just short of the 210 million subscriber forecast (source: Netflix Investor Report).

“We believe paid membership growth slowed due to the big COVID-19 pull forward in 2020 and a lighter content slate in the first half of this year, due to COVID-19 production delays,” the report states. “We continue to anticipate a strong second half with the return of new seasons of some of our biggest hits and an exciting film lineup. In the short-term, there is some uncertainty from Covid-19; in the long-term, the rise of streaming to replace linear TV around the world is the clear trend in entertainment.”

With accelerated demand for streaming and content in 2020 pulling forward growth from 2021, and with content light on the ground in 2021 thanks to remaining lockdown measures, Netflix forecasts the addition of 1 million new subscribers in Q2, instead of independent analyst predictions of 4.8 million (source: Reuters). 

Netflix is confident in its ability to retain its upward momentum as new content readies for launch in Q3/4.

“We anticipate paid membership growth will re-accelerate in the second half of 2021 as we ramp into a very strong back half slate with the return of big hits like ‘Sex Education’, ‘The Witcher’, ‘La Casa de Papel’ (aka Money Heist), and ‘You’, as well as an exciting array of original films including the finale to ‘The Kissing Booth trilogy’ and large scale, star-driven features like ‘Red Notice’ (starring Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds) and ‘Don’t Look Up’ (with an all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep). We’ll also have our most comprehensive offering to date of local language titles, including ‘Too Hot to Handle’ for Brazil and Mexico, a special based on our Korean hit franchise ‘Kingdom,’ the action-thriller ‘Dhamaka’ (India), as well as new seasons of ‘Sintonia’ (Brazil), and ‘Control Z’ (Mexico).”

The inevitable slowdown of streaming comes as the world readies itself to find a normal rhythm once again, and as lockdowns lift, content platforms will still be a big part of our lives but no longer have our sole focus.

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About the Author(s)

Ben Roberts

Content Director, License Global

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