Netflix's 2Q dud rattles investors as competition heats up
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix's video streaming service suffered a dramatic slowdown in growth during its traditionally sluggish spring season, a drop-off coming as the company boosts its prices and girds for even stiffer competition.
The service picked up 2.7 million worldwide subscribers for the April-June period. That's far below Netflix's forecast of 5 million subscribers. The second-quarter letdown announced today comes after Netflix attracted nearly 10 million subscribers during the first three months of the year, more than any other quarter since the debut of its video streaming service 12 years ago.
The slowdown rattled investors already wondering how Netflix might fare against a new wave of competition coming this fall when both Walt Disney Co. and Apple plan to launch their own video streaming services.
After the second-quarter numbers came out, Netflix's stock plunged 12 percent in extending trading. If that sell-off is replicated in Thursday's regular trading session, it will be the largest decline in Netflix's stock price in three years and wipe out $18 billion in shareholder wealth.
Netflix ended June with 151.6 million worldwide subscribers, far more than a current crop of video streaming rivals that includes as Amazon and Hulu.
Signaling it expects to regain some momentum this summer, the company projected it will add 7 million subscribers from July through September. The optimism stems in part from the immense popularity of "Stranger Things," whose third season attracted record viewership after its July 4 release.
But the battle for viewers' attention and dollars is about to get much tougher. Besides the Disney and Apple, AT&T will also join the fray next year with HBO Max and NBC is expanding into video streaming, too.
"I think our position is excellent," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during a Wednesday webcast. "We're building amazing capacity for content. Our product has never been in better shape."