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What just happened? Netflix has reversed two consecutive quarters of declining subscriber numbers, adding more than double the number of predicted new subs between July and September. A lot of the credit is being given to a group of 80's kids, a notorious serial killer, and the king of dreams.
After years of sitting comfortably as the most successful streaming service in the world, Netflix's decade of sustained growth came to an end in Q1 when it recorded its first decline in subscribers—around 200,000—following a massive boost in users throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns.
It was the same story in the second quarter when almost a million subs decided to leave, though that figure was better than the two million Netflix predicted would cancel their subscriptions.
But the trend reversed in Q3. Netflix expected its slate of third-quarter shows would help it regain the million users lost during the previous quarter. This is likely one instance where the company will be happy it miscalculated: 2.4 million people joined the service over the last three months.
Much of the credit for the new subs goes to Stranger Things. The hugely anticipated fourth season of the retro horror/sci-fi drama became only the second Netflix show after Squid Game to hit over one billion hours viewed.
Netflix's next massive hit was Sandman. The excellent adaptation of Neil Gaiman's graphic novels managed 198 million viewing hours in its first ten days. More recently, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story hit 300 million hours in its first full week of availability.
"After a challenging first half, we believe we're on a path to re-accelerate growth. The key is pleasing members," Netflix wrote in a letter to shareholders. "It's why we've always focused on winning the competition for viewing every day. When our series and movies excite our members, they tell their friends, and then more people watch, join and stay with us."
Netflix also took a shot at competitors such as Amazon Prime, Apple, and Disney Plus, noting that all its rivals are losing money while Netflix recorded a $5 billion to $6 billion annual operating profit.
There's good news for current Netflix subs: the streamer hinted that the strong quarter could see it boost spending on new content this year. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said it would "revisit" the $17 billion figure that was previously announced.
Yesterday brought confirmation that Netflix will further crack down on password sharing with its new profile transfer tool, arriving just weeks before the ad-supported tier launches.