Streaming giant Netflix recently announced that Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos is now Co-chief Executive Officer with long-time chair and Chief Executive Reed Hastings. The move is largely seen as clearing the path for Sarandos to eventually succeed Hastings, who noted that the promotion “makes formal what was already informal – that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix”. The company added 26+ million subscribers in the last two quarters as consumers began seeking more in-home entertainment while sheltering in place due to COVID-19.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, for Q2, Netflix added 10.1 million net new subscribers, which “surpassed the 7.5 million [it] had projected.” In Q1, the company added about 16 million customers. As chief content officer, Sarandos “has been the architect of the streaming service’s hugely successful original-programming strategy,” whose programs now contend for Academy and Emmy awards. Sarandos, who was elected to the board of governors, will also continue in his role as chief content officer.
Also as part of the shuffle, Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters will now also be chief operating officer, and “will work closely with Hastings in expanding Netflix’s international operations and further aligning the company’s overseas and domestic strategies.”
Netflix’s 2020 release schedule is “mostly in place” since it “produces content far in advance of its traditional broadcast and cable rivals and doesn’t expect to be slowed until midway through 2021.” It still expects to release more originals in 2021 than in 2020.
The company ended Q2 with 192.9+ million paying subscribers, up from 182.9 million in Q1 and 151.6 million a year prior. Netflix did say, however, that, “it expects less growth for the second half of 2020… adding 2.5 million net new subscribers in the third quarter, down from a gain of 6.8 million in the year-ago period”. Shares fell 10 percent, although it’s up 63 percent so far this year.
Recode reports that, though analysts predicted that the arrival of streaming rivals from Apple+ to Disney+ and HBO Max would “cut into Netflix’s growth,” it “hasn’t panned out,” with the company continuing to add new paying subscribers. But, it adds, “not even Netflix can fend off a pandemic forever,” referring to the company’s expectation that new original content will slow down next year.
Hastings and others have aimed too low in predicting new subscriber numbers but, “no one has ever tried financial forecasting during a pandemic before.” Or, as Hastings put it, projections are “a bunch of us feeling the wind.” The conclusion, suggests Recode is that, “Netflix is … for now, in a good position to ride out the pandemic: While it has billions in debt, it is generating lots of cash each month from its subscribers.”