Netflix delays password-sharing crackdown rollout, posts mixed results

Netflix reported earnings after the bell. Here are the results. Read more...

Reed Hastings, co-CEO of Netflix, participates in the Milken Institute Global Conference on October 18, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Netflix on Tuesday posted mixed financial results and said it was pushing back its broad rollout of its password-sharing crackdown.

Originally, Netflix wanted the rollout to take place late in the first quarter, but on Tuesday it said it would do it in the second quarter.

“While this means that some of the expected membership growth and revenue benefit will fall in Q3 rather than Q2, we believe this will result in a better outcome from both our members and our business,” the company said in its earnings release.

The company said it saw its subscriber growth impacted in the international markets where it has already rolled out such initiatives.

Here are the results Netflix reported Tuesday versus estimates from analysts polled by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.88 vs $2.86 expected
  • Revenue: $8.16 billion vs $8.18 billion expected

Shares of Netflix initially fell more than 10% but recovered in after hours trading.

Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing has been top of mind for investors. Late last year, the company said it would begin rolling out measures to have people who have been borrowing other accounts create their own.

The company has said more than 100 million households share accounts, or about 43% of its global user base. That has affected its ability to invest in new content, Netflix has said. Both the ad-supported option and crackdown on password sharing are meant to boost profits.

In February, Netflix outlined password-sharing guidance in four countries: New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Spain. The company said it would ask users in those countries to set a “primary location” for their accounts, and allow users to establish up to two “sub accounts” for those who don’t live in their home base for extra fees.

Netflix said Tuesday it has been pleased with its push to mitigate password sharing. In Latin America, the company said it saw cancellations after the news was announced, which affected near-term growth. But, Netflix added, those password borrowers would later activate their own accounts ad add existing members as “extra member” accounts. As a result, the company said, it is seeing more revenue.

Canada, which will likely serve as a template for the U.S., has seen its membership base grow due to the launch of paid sharing, and revenue growth has accelerated and “is growing faster than in the U.S.”

On Tuesday, Netflix said goodbye to what got it started — its DVD mailing business, in which it would send out the discs in red envelopes to customers. The company’s CEO Ted Sarandos said in a blog post that it would finally wind down the DVD business, which “continues to shrink.”

A year ago, Netflix had reported its first subscriber loss in a decade, sending its shares on a downward spiral, as well as those of its media peers. The results pushed Netflix and its streaming rivals to focus on profits over subscriber numbers.

Netflix noted on Tuesday that “competition remains intense as we compete with so many forms of entertainment.”

Last November, Netflix unveiled its cheaper tier with commercials, which costs $6.99 a month. The ad-supported tier came shortly after it lost subscribers as streaming competition ramped up.

Sarandos recently said the company is likely to offer multiple ad-supported tiers in the future.

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