Netflix Forecasts Slow Start to 2020 Amid Increased Competition From Apple, Disney

Netflix just posted meager numbers for its US subscriber growth — lower than the modest numbers Netflix had told Wall Street it expected to hit — and said that some of the miss might come from pressure from new competitors, reads a new report from Reuters.

Those new competitors would be Disney, which launched its Disney+ streaming service in November and promptly announced it had signed up 10 million subscribers in a day; and Apple, which also launched its Apple TV+ service in November — but hasn’t provided any information about how that launch went.

Those launches, Netflix says, may have cut into its growth: Netflix had told investors it expected to sign up 600,000 new subscribers in the last three months of 2019, but in reality it only landed 420,000.

“Despite the big debut of Disney+ and the launch of Apple TV+, our viewing per membership grew both globally and in the U.S. on a year over year basis, consistent with recent quarters,” the company wrote in a letter to investors.

“Many media companies and tech giants are launching streaming services, reinforcing the major trend of the transition from linear to streaming entertainment,” Netflix acknowledged in its shareholder letter.

“This is happening all over the world and is still in its early stages, leaving ample room for many services to grow as linear TV wanes. We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years — pleasing members. We believe if we do that well, Netflix will continue to prosper. As an example, in Q4, despite the big debut of Disney+ and the launch of Apple TV+, our viewing per membership grew both globally and in the U.S. on a year-over-year basis, consistent with recent quarters.”

According to the company, Netflix expanded its subscriber base “both globally and in the United States on a year over year basis.”

In total, the company boasts over 167 million paid viewers and in the last three months of 2019, it said it won nearly 8.8 million new members. This is progress for the entertainment streaming service as it exceeded its expectations, the company noted, which was originally 7.6 million.

Of particular note, Netflix’s You and The Witcher have won massive global audiences. According to the company’s analysis, You went from being a series with a “modest audience” to a “global phenomenon.” The Crown, too, has won critical praise and loyal viewership, Netflix noted, with “over 21 million member households” watching the series’ third season.

Perhaps most stunningly, Netflix noted, The Witcher became its “biggest season one TV series ever.” Of note, “76 million member households chose to watch this action-packed fantasy,” the company stated.