By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business
Netflix now has 213.5 million subscribers globally, having added 4.4 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2021, the company reported on Tuesday.
That number beat the streaming service’s own expectations as well as those of analysts. The company also forecast that it would have 222 million subscribers for the next quarter.
The results immediately sent the company’s stock up by as much as 2% in after hours trading before going negative nearly as much as the night went on.
Netflix’s third quarter profit was $1.4 billion, up from $790 million in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue jumped 16%, to $7.4 billion.
This isn’t a blowaway quarter for the company, which has had much bigger subscriber growth in the past. But after two consecutive sluggish quarters, the third quarter showed that Netflix appears to be somewhat back on the right track.
The report comes as Netflix is dealing with controversy over a Dave Chappelle comedy special as well as watching the growing popularity of “Squid Game” — a fictional drama from South Korea that has taken the streaming world by storm since its September 17 debut.
“Netflix is a global, direct-to-consumer service which enables creators to reach broader audiences — and gives our members an even greater choice of stories to enjoy,” the company said in its letter to investors on Tuesday. “There is no better example of this than ‘Squid Game.’”
The company announced earlier this month that the dystopian series, in which contestants desperately in need of money play deadly children’s games to win cash prizes, was it’s “biggest-ever series at launch.”
The company said Tuesday that 142 million member households have watched the show in its first four weeks.
Elsewhere in the earnings report, Netflix reported that it added roughly 70,000 subscribers in the US and Canada — an improvement from the second quarter’s loss, but only up about 1 million subscribers from last year’s totals in those countries. The company still has about 74 million members in the US and Canada, but the region has become very saturated, stagnating Netflix’s growth there.
This is why the company has made its global expansion a point of emphasis. Case in point: the company’s biggest growth in the third quarter was in the Asian-Pacific region, which accounted for roughly half of Netflix’s gains.
Away from its numbers and “Squid Game,” Netflix finds itself in the middle of a media firestorm as it continues to defend Chappelle’s new comedy special “The Closer.”
The special has been criticized as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates, artists and employees. It premiered earlier this month.
Netflix fired an employee for sharing “confidential, commercially sensitive information” outside of the company about the stand-up special. The unidentified employee was an organizer of an upcoming walkout by the company’s trans employees, according to a report by The Verge.
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