Despite adding over eight million subscribers during its fourth-quarter earnings report last year, Netflix saw its stock plummet more than 20 percent in January after announcing that it expected growth to slow in the first quarter because of rising subscriber prices and highly anticipated content that wouldn’t arrive until March.
The stock has yet to recover.
Now as the streaming giant prepares to report its first-quarter earnings Tuesday at the close of trading, analysts are not expecting much good news. Adding to the stress is Netflix’s decision last month to suspend services in Russia, prompting what analysts believe will be a subscriber loss of one to two million — a factor that may hold back net additions from reaching the 2.5 million subscribers the company had anticipated adding.
It’s a far cry from a year ago, when Netflix added four million subscribers to its base. The market has since matured, especially in the U.S.; there is increased competition from streaming services like HBO Max and Disney+; and the price hike implemented in January is an indication that the company needs to rely on revenue sources other than subscriber additions.
Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at the Benchmark Company, said in a note issued Monday that he remained cautious about the upcoming quarterly report, predicting the company would post net subscriber growth of 1.2 million, minus one million because of the loss of Russian subscribers. Steven Cahall of Wells Fargo is more optimistic, estimating the addition of roughly three million new subscribers.
Mr. Harrigan also noted that while the second season of “Bridgerton” set an opening-weekend record for an English language show on Netfix, with 193 million hours of viewing time globally, it lagged the record set by a Spanish show, “Money Heist.” That show amassed 201.9 million viewing hours in its opening weekend in September, suggesting that Netflix’s future growth may be coming from non-English-speaking markets.