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Netflix “very very happy” with mobile-only India plan; 93% of new subscribers from outside the US

Netflix added 6.3 million subscribers outside the US, performing slightly above expectations in Q3FY19. It added 500,000 subscribers in the US, just shy of its 800,000 forecast.

Why this matters: For two reasons:

  1. Netflix is expected to face tough competition as the so-called “streaming wars” begin with the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+ in November. Disney+ is launching in US and Canada at half the price of a standard Netflix subscription.
  2. Netflix failed to meet expectations last quarter, as US subscriber count fell for the first time since its streaming service launched in 2011. It added only 2.6 million subscribers globally, short of the 5 million forecast.

Very very happy with mobile-only India plan: Gregory Peters said they’re “very, very happy with the mobile plan. It’s actually performing better than we tested. We’ll look at testing that in other markets, too, because we think there are other markets which have similar conditions that make it likely that, that’s going to be successful for us there as well.” Unsurprisingly, Sacred Games is Netflix’s most-watched show in India. In July, Netflix had launched a mobile-only plan for India costing Rs 199 per month to increase subscribers.

With the US market saturated, Netflix has been producing content of other markets. It’s worth noting that international revenue has overtaken US revenue over the past year; both stood at 1.9 billion in Q3 2018, and now international revenue is $2.7 billion, and US revenue is $2.4 billion.

Netflix thinks everyone will be competing with broadcast: According to Netflix, upcoming streaming services from Disney+ and Apple TV+ will simply mean that all streaming services will compete with broadcast. “In our view, the likely outcome from the launch of these new services will be to accelerate the shift from linear TV to on-demand consumption of entertainment,” Netflix said in its letter to shareholders.

But again, all of us are competing with linear TV. We’re all relatively small to linear TV. So just like in the letter we put about the multiple cable networks over the last 30 years not really competing with each other fundamentally but competing with broadcast, I think it’s the same kind of dynamic here.
 Reed Hastings, CEO

What about competition’s cheaper plans? Netflix seems to think that cheaper prices of other services won’t matter much:

I think the pricing of our competitors we don’t feel as a real significant factor in determining where — what we can change for our service. Again, the services and the content are highly differentiated, so one is not something you’re going to choose to do just for us.

The numbers:

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  • Revenue up 31% to $5.2 billion
  • Net income: $665 million

Next quarter, it expects 7.6 million new subscribers, 7 million of them from outside the US. Netflix will start providing a region-wise breakdown of subscribers and revenue starting next quarte.

Downloads: Letter to Shareholders | Earnings Call Transcript – Q3FY2019

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