On April 20, Netflix’s stock dropped 35% after the streaming service announced a drop in subscribers for the first time in a decade. The shocking plunge came along with news of co-CEO Reed Hastings’ future plans for the company, including advertisements, changes in prices and stricter rules for password sharing.
Password sharing is especially an issue — Netflix allows one household to make five accounts for individual family members. However, it also estimates that about 100 million households worldwide are using their platform for free. The large boost in subscribers during the pandemic era has finally settled and left investors greatly disappointed. Now, Netflix is ready to try anything to get money from those 100 million households, and even added free mobile games late last year as a way to convince more people to pay.
As a big movie lover who has only had Netflix for about two years now, there’s definitely a reason for the big changes. Netflix is considered a superior streaming service in terms of its original content. Its original content fills up a good part of its library, a lot of which is also award winning. Sci-fi hits like “Stranger Things” and reality TV like “Selling Sunset” have made Netflix a household name and have been the reason for many subscribers to stay.
However, competition is also stepping up the game. Other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max and Hulu have begun to slowly steal away subscribers with their respective competitive content. These platforms’ recent success has people questioning if Netflix’s prices — which range from $9.99 to $19.99 per month depending on the plan — is worth it, especially when Hulu offers plans starting at just $6.99 a month for ad-supported streaming.
For me, personally, the only thing Netflix has going for it at the moment is its originality. As the first big name for streaming platforms, there’s a sense of loyalty that comes just from its title alone. The signature black background and sideways scrolling create an interface easy for browsing. Levels of parental controls are available for households with children. It’s the original great system.
But just because it works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved — especially when you’re paying for limited content. Nowadays, I’ll open Netflix when getting ready to paint my nails or eat and scroll for a bit before giving up because nothing catches my interest. I found myself even reaching for my Disney+ account — which I thought I would use purely for Marvel releases. The nostalgic shows and movies exclusive to Disney are definitely their strength. I realized this recently as I returned over and over again to the platform to revisit my childhood.
Popular shows that previously attracted subscribers on Netflix — like Friends and Gossip Girl — have also all left the platform over the past couple of years without any major show replacements. Warner Bros. retracted the licenses to them only to place the shows on its own platform — HBO Max.
For all of these reasons, I think my own Netflix subscription is at stake. Random video games and rules about password sharing don’t particularly apply to me, but ads are another story. One of the main reasons for live television’s decrease in popularity is the amount of commercial interruptions.
After having used Netflix for years, my patience has only decreased — to the point where I would absolutely reconsider a Netflix subscription instead of paying even more for a better plan. The 200,000 subscribers that canceled their subscriptions and left Netflix at a new low may just be on to something.