Streaming giant Netflix lost subscribers in the United States for the first time in nearly a decade, dropping a net 130,000 over the second quarter of 2019 while also adding nearly two million fewer customers than predicted.
Although overall paid subscribers rose by 2.7 million, this was well below Netflix’s target of adding five million subscribers worldwide. The platform also lost 130,000 subscribers across the United States, marking the first decline since 2011 — sending the company’s stock tumbling by over 12 percent in after-hours trading.
“Our missed forecast was across all regions, but slightly more so in regions with price increases,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a letter to shareholders. “We don’t believe competition was a factor since there wasn’t a material change in the competitive landscape during Q2, and competitive intensity and our penetration is varied across regions.”
Hastings also indicated that the company would start shifting away from providing classic shows Friends and The Office and produce even more original content.
“Much of our domestic, and eventually global, Disney catalog, as well as Friends, The Office, and some other licensed content will wind down over the coming years, freeing up budget for more original content,” Hastings wrote. “From what we’ve seen in the past when we drop strong catalog content (Starz and Epix with Sony, Disney, and Paramount films, or second run series from Fox, for example) our members shift over to enjoying our other great content.”
Despite the enormous success of Netflix originals such as Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, the company has also seen its content and leadership become increasingly politicized over recent years.
Having once seemingly focused on its broad appeal, the streaming service now appears to be producing increasingly progressive content, whether it be through “woke” talk shows such as The Break with Michelle Wolf or documentaries like Knock Down the House that favorably followed the campaigns of four progressive female Democrats in the 2018 midterm election cycle.
Last year, the company also saw its approval rating plummet after they announced a “multi-year agreement” with Barack and Michelle Obama to produce films and series for the platform. Netflix also appointed Barack Obama’s former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to the company’s board.
In May, the company also seemingly declared war on states seeking to restrict their abortion laws, specifically in Georgia following their passing of a heartbeat law that seeks to outlaw abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
“Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer in May. “Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”