January 20, 2021
Following a 2020 that saw record 37 million new subscribers, record revenue of nearly $30 billion and profit of $2.76 billion, Netflix is firing on all cylinders — the envy of the over-the-top video ecosystem and Hollywood. And the SVOD pioneer’s executives weren’t afraid to say so.
On the pre-recorded fiscal webcast, co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings appeared to take offense to a question from analyst/moderator Kannan Venkateshwar with Barclays Bank, who suggested Netflix was underachieving in comparison to Disney’s branded SVOD platform Disney+.
“Underachieving, Kannan?,” Hastings responded. “The annualized return over 18 years being 40% … if that’s underperformance, we’ll do more of that.”
Hastings called Disney’s streaming video rise “super impressive,” and said Disney+ has “fired up” Netflix to up its game and compete against them on content, “show by show, movie by movie,” and catching/passing them in family animation.
“We have a long way to go just to catch them [in family animation] and maintaining our lead in general entertainment, it’s so stimulating, like [recent original] ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon,” Hastings said.
Earlier in the month Netflix reported that “Bridgerton,” the first original Netflix series from “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes, and featuring an interracial cast in the period piece, is on track to be streamed by 63 million subscriber homes in the 28 days following its Dec. 25 release — the fifth-highest tally in the SVOD pioneer’s history.
Spencer Wang, VP of finance and corporate development, was quick to point out that 30% of Disney+’s 87 million paid subscribers are actually from India’s Hotstar streaming service, “which I think we all sort of recognize as a bit of a different service.”
Wang said the Disney Plus sub count is actually closer to 60 million, with Netflix’s average revenue per user (ARPU) roughly double or more.
“So I think when you factor in those dynamics on the fact that we’re coming from a higher level of penetration globally, I think we feel very good about the performance,” he said.
Sarandos appeared to recognize the provocative nature of the questions posed by moderator Venkateshwar, telling Wang, “so you took the bait.”
“Can I just try to get us to chest pound some more?” he quipped.