Netflix reported revenues Wednesday night, and the results were disastrous. The company saw its first major loss in US subscribers last year, and only 2.7 million paid customers were added globally, almost half of what was expected. Shares fell by more than 10 percent just after the report came out. It's a frighteningly slow decline for a subscriber-based service, raising new questions about how long the company can justify content use.
On a conversation after the release, Netflix's managers emphasized international markets where subscriber growth is still healthy. Almost all of the company's new subscribers were from international markets in the quarter, and according to CEO Reed Hastings, there is still plenty of room to grow there.
"There are about 700 million households paying for TV outside China – equivalent to the US one hundred million – and it's an established market," Hastings told investors on Wednesday night. "Do we have enough content in each of these countries? The internet is capable of some very large customer bases."
Netflix executives also used a significant portion of their conversation and talked about India, where the company expects significant growth. It is a largely unsaturated market, and one that Netflix has tried to develop content for over a period of time. Netflix is launching five new originals to India, some of which can be marketed to the United States and Europe.
"We have seen good, stable increases and engagement with our Indian viewers that we believe we can continue to build on," said Sarandos. "Growth in that country is a marathon. We are in it for a long time."
The international focus pays off, according to Sarandos. Three special shows – How to sell drugs Online (Germany), The rain (Denmark) and Quicksand (Sweden) – have all found large audiences outside their original region . Each show has gathered between 12 and 15 million global viewers, said Sarandos, adding that although they have been deeply relevant in their home country and travel the region very well, "they find the audience everywhere.
" We see some real local, regional and globally relevant content from around the world, "he added.
At the same time, the company is facing a steeper road than ever in the US Netflix has lost subscribers in the quarter for the first time this year, a combination of price increases and a content burden. Wherever the US market is superseded by streaming services – with WarnerMedia, Disney and Apple launching streaming services – is the only way to secure growth outside the US Netflix currently has 60 million paying domestic subscribers, and Hastings believes they can reach 90 million , but the risk of market saturation is real and raises difficult questions for the company's content strategy.