Netflix: ‘We Slightly Over-Forecasted’ Q4 Sub Growth, Missed Projection by 200,000

Netflix Jan. 20 said it added 8.3 million subscribers worldwide in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2021. The tally was off less than 3% (200,000 subs) from the streamer’s projection of 8.5 million net paid additions, but enough of a miss to send the streamer’s stock tumbling. Netflix ended the quarter with 222 million subs globally.

“We slightly over-forecasted paid net adds in Q4,” Netflix co-CEOs Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and CFO Spence Neumann co-wrote in the shareholder newsletter. “While retention and engagement remain
healthy, acquisition growth has not yet re-accelerated to pre-Covid levels. We think this may be due to several factors including the ongoing Covid overhang and macro-economic hardship in several parts of the world like Latin America.”

Indeed, the streamer added 200,000 fewer subs (1 million) in South America than in the previous-year period at 1.2 million, for more than 39.9 million total subs at the end of 2021.

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The SVOD pioneer added 1.2 million subs in North America, its biggest domestic sub growth in the region since the early days of COVID-19 in 2020. The region ended the quarter with 75.2 million subs.

In the Asia Pacific region, Netflix increased paid memberships by 2.6 million (up from 2 million in the year ago quarter) with strong growth in both Japan and India — to end the year with 32.6 million.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa, Netflix added 3.5 million subs vs. 4.5 million in the prior year period. The region, which ended 2021 with 74 million subs, delivered record quarterly revenue, exceeding $2.5 billion for the first time.

For the year, Netflix added 18 million vs. 37 million in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the streamer had a strong quarter with new releases, including a new season of “The Witcher” (484 million hours viewed), “You” (468 million hours viewed), “Emily in Paris” (287 million hours viewed) and on Dec. 31, 2021, a new season of “Cobra Kai” (274 million hours viewed), as well as the critically acclaimed limited series “Maid” (469 million hours viewed).

Netflix later this year will launch a Korean adaptation of its popular Spanish “La Casa de Papel” aka “Money Heist” (6.7 billion hours viewed over its lifetime). The new series, “Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area,” aims to expand the LCDP universe outside of Europe.

“Over the years, we’ve learned that big hits can come from anywhere in the world (with great subtitles and dubbing) … but our goal with non-English originals is to first and foremost thrill audiences in their home country,” wrote Hastings, Sarandos and Neumann.