Is this a sign that the auspicious period for the pandemic may be coming to an end for some digital platforms? Netflix ended the first quarter of 2021 with nearly 208 million paying subscribers worldwide (+ 14%), or 2 million less than what the video streaming giant had promised investors. The sanction was immediate: its title lost more than 10% during electronic exchanges after the close of the Stock Exchange. “We believe that the growth of our paid subscriber base has slowed because of the 2020 breakthrough related to Covid-19 and also because of a smaller content supply in the first half of this year, due to delays production due to the pandemic, “the California group said in a statement. “We ended 2020 with more subscribers and income than we would have had” without the health crisis, he recalled.

At the start of the year, growth was at a good pace, in particular thanks to the success of modern fictional adaptations such as “La Chronique des Bridgerton” or the French series “Lupine”. In January, Netflix announced that the British sentimental plot “The Chronicle of the Bridgertons” had been seen by 82 million households in four weeks, a record. But the momentum then faltered, and the platform is only counting on 1 million additional subscribers for the current quarter, against 10 million last year at the same period. “This is a source of concern because Disney +, Hulu, HBO Max and others are catching up with them in terms of US subscribers,” comments Eric Haggstrom, analyst at eMarketer. “This means that Netflix is ​​arguably close to saturation in the United States, its biggest market.”

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Still increasing turnover

This refresh “shows that the world is getting back to normal a bit, at the expense of Netflix,” tweeted Gene Munster of the Loup Ventures investment fund. In the long term, he envisions “almost flat” growth for the pioneer of the sector. Disney +, which began operating in November 2019, reached nearly 95 million subscribers in February. The platform has greatly benefited from containment measures, the huge catalog of the Californian group and low prices compared to competitors. “We’ve had ten years of smooth growth, it’s just a little wobbly right now,” Reed Hastings, founder and boss of Netflix, told an analysts conference. “We wondered if it was not because of the competition, (…) but we looked closely at the data in the regions where there are new competitors and it does not make a difference for us. terms of relative growth, “he said.

He also reiterated that the main rivals of the platform according to him remain the so-called “linear” television, traditional, followed by YouTube. “It comes down to Covid,” added Spencer Neumann, the group’s chief financial officer. “It’s hard to predict the results right now.” Netflix nevertheless hopes for a rebound from the summer, in particular thanks to the return of very popular series like “Sex Education” or “La Casa de Papel” in the second half of the year, and also thanks to the resumption of filming, thanks to the campaigns vaccination against Covid-19. “We are safely re-producing in most major markets except Brazil and India,” the company explains.

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“If this continues, we’ll spend over $ 17 billion on content this year, and we’ll continue to offer an incredible variety of titles with even more original productions than last year.” The platform has the means: its revenue jumped 24% to more than $ 7 billion in the first quarter and its net profit, 1.7 billion, is well above expectations and more than double from there. a year. But despite this increase, “Netflix’s market share in terms of streaming subscription revenue is declining,” eMarketer noted in a statement. “They had 49.4% of the US total in 2018, against 30.8% expected by the end of the year.”

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