Netflix added 8.28 million global paid net subscribers in the last quarter of 2021, beating the 8.13 forecasted by analysts, but falling behind the 8.5 million the streamer expected for the period. Therefore, the company ended 2021 with a total of 222 million paid subscribers, adding just 18 million new paying subscribers during the year compared with the 37 million gained in 2020.
“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. 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,” Netflix said in a letter to shareholders.
“This reinforces our view that the greatest opportunity in entertainment is the transition from linear to streaming, and that with under 10% of total TV screen time in the United States, our biggest market, Netflix has tremendous room for growth if we can continue to improve our service,” the letter added.
Financially speaking, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of US$1.33, beating analysts' expectations of earnings per share of about US$0.88, although it is a sharp decline in profit from US$3.19 the previous quarter, dragged down by rising costs. Meanwhile, Netflix met expectations on revenue of US$7.71 billion, up from US$7.48 in the third quarter.
In terms of territories, Netflix has seen more growth in regions like the Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In recent quarters, growth has stalled in North America, with the streamer losing some 400.000 subscribers at one point in the second quarter of 2021, but regaining some of those losses in the third one. In its last shareholder letter, the company noted that 90% of its paid subscriber adds were coming from outside of the United States and Canada region.
Regarding content, Netflix said season two of “The Witcher” was its top series title released in the fourth quarter, raking up 484 million hours of viewing worldwide in its first 28 days, while “Maid” (469 million hours) and season three of “You” (468 million hours) also had strong showings. However, the undisputable king of 2021 was the Korean hit “Squid Game,” which was released during the third quarter and quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series ever.