Netflix sees growth slowing in North America, but gains abroad

The streamer, which now has in the region of 6.6 million domestic members, acknowledged that the slowdown in North America was affected by the entrance of other streamers.
January 22, 2020

Netflix on Tuesday acknowledged its slowing subscriber growth in North America is “probably” due to the arrival of other streaming services, as the digital giant added around 130,000 subs in Canada and 420,000 in the U.S in Q4.

While membership growth has tapered off in North America, the Los Gatos, CA-based streamer posted another impressive quarter in which it added 8.8 million global subs and pushed past 167 million paid members in total. For fiscal 2019, Netflix posted annual revenues in excess of US$20 billion.

Combined Q4 revenue for the U.S. and Canada was US$2.67 billion, up from $2.62 billion in Q3, while annual revenue hit $10 billion, up from $8.3 billion the year prior.

In North America, the streaming market has seen a number of new arrivals in recent months. Disney made a splash in November with the launch of its own streaming service, Disney+, which gained a reported 10 million members (paid and unpaid) within a day of its launch. Others including HBO Max and Peacock are on the way, with studies suggesting the five biggest global SVOD platforms will have half a billion global subs by 2025.

“Our low membership growth in UCAN is probably due to our recent price changes and to U.S. competitive launches,” said Netflix’s letter to shareholders. The letter also noted that in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands – where Disney+ also operates – Netflix has felt a “more muted impact” from the launches of other streaming entities.

Netflix attributed what it called a “strong finish to 2019″ to a content slate that featured new seasons of scripted series The Crown, Big Mouth and You and new series and films such as Rhythm & Flow and American Son.

The streamer is also introducing a new methodology to measure viewership on its platform. Under the new system, Netflix counts a view when an account watches for two minutes, which it says is “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”

Netflix said the previous method, which counted a view when a household had watched more than 70% of an episode or film, “makes less sense” given that Netflix has titles that vary significantly in duration. It also noted that the new measurement metric will see its reported viewership increase by around 35%.

Netflix’s premium natural history series Our Planet will see its viewership go from 33 million households to 45 million under the new metric, for example.

This story originally appeared in Playback Daily.



About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.