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7 Counterpoints About Whether Netflix Will Keep Bleeding Subscribers

Here are four reasons Netflix is bleeding subscribers, and three unique advantages the top streamer has that could result in a rebound.

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Few thought the bubble would burst—until it did. Netflix, the leading global provider of paid streaming video on demand, announced last week its first major dip in subscribers after more than a decade of consistent growth. Subsequently, a 35 percent stock drop wiped out more than $50 billion in market value overnight. 

Naturally, Netflix tried to spin it as a blip, related to subscriber password-sharing and other factors. But many now question fundamental strategy assumptions.

The acronym TAM, or Total Addressable Market, is the current buzzword. Bullish streaming observers have said the United States could grow to well beyond 100 million streaming subscribers, while others contended 80 million is probably near the ceiling. Netflix has hovered around 74 million for years.

In popular entertainment, both business and cultural factors are at play. Here are four reasons Netflix is bleeding subscribers, and three unique advantages the top streamer has that could result in a rebound (and continued dominance) down the road.

1. Netflix Competitors Are Creating Originals, and Taking Back Hit Netflix Shows

For years, almost every major Hollywood player—from Disney to Comcast-NBC-Universal to Warner Bros. Discovery—has been trying to mimic Netflix’s strategy and Wall Street golden-boy status. While execs perhaps have privately smirked at their rival’s tumble, it’s a wake-up call that streaming success will be harder than most thought.

Those competitors have poured billions into their own streamers, creating a few hits like “The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus) and “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus). But the bigger loss for Netflix has been studios pulling back their most-binged shows, with “The Office” moving to Peacock, Marvel shows to Disney Plus, and “Friends” to HBO Max. No wonder subscribers left.

2. But the Top Streamer’s Critical Mass of Subscribers Will Be Difficult to Overtake

With tech-savvy innovation, Netflix basically invented the streaming service in 2007. For millennials, many who’ve never had a cable TV subscription, the Netflix brand is synonymous with in-home entertainment, like Kleenex is to hand tissues. As Entertainment Strategy Guy reports, Disney has to combine figures from their two services to approach the reach of Netflix. 

Netflix quickly moved to expand its app worldwide, currently available in more than 190 countries. Powered by servers across the globe, the streamer is widely accessible on every device. Major rivals, along with smaller conservative-alternative services like Frndly TV, Dove Channel and PureFlix, are all playing catch-up to the first-to-market leader. 

3. Some Families Canceling Disney Plus Likely Decided to Dump Netflix Too

The clash of values between Hollywood and conservatives has been obvious for decades. Lately, entertainment empire Disney—once trusted for its family-centered approach to storytelling—has become the target of many conservatives’ ire. Few know if that effort made an effect until analyzing Disney’s latest subscriber figures, set to be updated May 11

It’s possible that the greater scrutiny given Disney Plus (“Turning Red” among other films) has caused some families to dump the top streamer too. Netflix shows like “Sex Education” and animated “Big Mouth” feature explicit content that push even their TV-MA rating. Their update of “The Baby-Sitters Club” has a biological boy joining the girls’ club. And French film “Cuties” on Netflix, featuring scenes of sexualized minors, has sparked an ongoing legal battle in Texas. 

4. Yet Netflix Still Has Broadest Library And Best Usability of Any Streamer 

Every month, Netflix adds more than their rivals to what’s essentially the largest film and TV streaming library. It’s not only in horror, reality TV, and rom-coms (I’ll pass), but an impressive slate of documentaries, World War II titles (“Operation Mincemeat” out soon), and favorite films from the 80’s-90’s-and-today. To their credit, since Netflix brought on popular and controversial “Seinfeld,” they haven’t edited any episodes.

Boosted by originals like big-budget series “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” with new seasons out in coming months, the real secret sauce of Netflix is its recommendation engine. In multiple user-friendly ways, it constantly suggests other similar titles and gets users to fill up their watch list. Other services stream classics, but Netflix does better at maximizing its library. 

5. This Year’s Slate of Netflix Originals Has Done Far Worse Than Last Year 

Analyzing Netflix’s woes, Jim Geraghty of National Review explains how data drives the top streamer’s decision-making process. He wrote: “Running show-creation proposals through an algorithm probably ensures you’ll get shows and movies that are like shows and movies that were hits in the past—not necessarily new creations that are bold, unusual, or surprising.”

The numbers back up this observation. Only four years ago, half of the 30 top-rated shows on IMDb could be found on Netflix, according to one Hollywood insider. Today, that figure is only 8 of the top 30. Netflix generated buzz with its trailer of 87 films to come in 2022, but the track record of hits to misses hasn’t been hot. 

6. However, Netflix Is Still Placing Big Bets On Many Diverse Producers 

Surprisingly, Netflix has funded shows that defy or even mock leftist orthodoxy. Karate-centric dramedy “Cobra Kai” skewers political correctness and promotes personal responsibility. Even after provocative comedian Dave Chappelle sparked a walk-out of Netflix staff over his latest special, the streamer announced they’d be working with him on future comedy programs. 

If adaptations of gritty comics and video games aren’t your thing, prepare to skip many Netflix originals. But in terms of historical drama, true-crime series, sports documentaries, and those random favorites everyone has (i.e. “Blue Miracle” or “Floor Is Lava” returning soon), hidden gems of many varieties can be found amidst the dross. 

7. Constant Price Increases Result in Many Dropping Netflix, Other Streamers

As inflation hits hard, many are tightening their entertainment budget, and Netflix is the most pricey of the major streamers. Rivals won’t get off easy either. Word has it that Disney Plus plans to hike prices this fall, when it launches a cheap version of their streamer with ads. While Hollywood is counting on such strategies to drive growth, no one knows for sure.

With spring in full bloom, and summer sports and travel around the corner, many households will have less time for screens. (Watch for details about Screen-Free Week.) Just as being active outdoors strengthens the body, engaging with stories—including ones playing out on screens—can feed the soul. Discerning viewers know the content and purpose of those stories matters.