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Netflix shares fall 18% on slowing subscriber growth

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Netflix reported fourth-quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday. The streamer beat on both the top and bottom lines, but shares plunged more than 18% in after-hours trading, to the lowest levels since June 2020, on slowing subscriber growth.

Here are the key numbers:

Earnings per share (EPS): $1.33 vs82 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts.
Revenue: $7.71 billion vs $7.71 billion expected, according to Refinitiv.
Global paid net subscriber additions: 8.28 million vs 8.19 million expected, according to StreetAccount estimates

The company added 8.28 million global paid net subscribers in the fourth quarter. Analysts had expected the company to add 8.19 million, according to StreetAccount estimates. But that’s fewer than the 8.5 million subscribers Netflix added in Q4 2020, the same figured it had forecasted for Q4 2021, and its outlook was worse.

The company said it expects to add 2.5 million subscribers during the first quarter of 2022, far below the 3.98 million it added in Q1 2021. Netflix said it plans for a more back-end weighted content slate in the first quarter, with big premieres set for March.

But that’s similar to the image Netflix had painted heading into Q4. Netflix and analysts had anticipated a large jump in consumers at the end of 2021 when the company released new TV shows and movies that had been pushed to the back half of the year. During the quarter, for example, Netflix released high-performing content such as “Emily in Paris,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Red Notice” and “You.”

Netflix said increased competition from other companies was one reason for the slowdown, though in the past it had said companies like Apple and Disney wouldn’t materially affect growth.

“Consumers have always had many choices when it comes to their entertainment time – competition that has only intensified over the last 24 months as entertainment companies all around the world develop their own streaming offering,” Netflix said. “While this added competition may be affecting our marginal growth some, we continue to grow in every country and region in which these new streaming alternatives have launched.”

Disney and Roku shares also dipped in after-hours trading.

Netflix announced price increases in the U.S. and Canada last week. In the States, the monthly cost for the basic plan rose $1 to $9.99. The standard plan jumped from $13.99 to $15.49 and the premium plan rose from $17.99 to $19.99.

Netflix’s strategy is to increase prices as customers become even more entrenched in the company’s exclusive content. Price increases can help offset waning customer growth.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for updates.

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