After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in impressive subscriber growth earlier this year, it was Netflix Numbers have returned to earth.
The streaming service added 15.77 million net new subscribers in the first quarter of the year, followed by 10.09 million in the second quarter. Only 2.5 million were forecast for the third quarter.
Today's earnings report shows the company missed that already below-average target with just 2.2 million net additions, increasing its total subscriber base to 195 million. Net additions are projected to be 6.0 million in the fourth quarter compared to 8.8 million in the same period last year.
"As highlighted in our recent investor letters, we believe our first-half net additions would result in slower growth in the second half of this year," the company said in its letter to shareholders. "If we hit our forecast, we will see a record 34 million net paid additions in 2020, well above our previous annual high of 28.6 million in 2018."
The company also said that "retention remains healthy and engagement per member household has grown solidly year after year."
While the pandemic may have accelerated Netflix's user growth, it has also halted movie production for security reasons. This meant a slowdown in the release schedule – although the delay is less noticeable to Netflix with so many shows and movies in the pipeline.
With the resumption of production, the company announced that it had completed main photography for more than 50 productions since mid-March. It is planned to do the same for 150 more productions by the end of the year.
The fourth season of "Stranger Things", the second season of "The Witcher" and the action movie "Red Notice" (starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds) have also resumed production.
The announcement includes viewership for a handful of shows and films released in the last quarter: 43 million subscribers chose the new season of "The Umbrella Academy", 48 million for "Ratched" and 38 million for "The Social Dilemma" and 78 million voted for the Charlize Theron action film "The Old Guard". (As a reminder, the Netflix "Selected to Watch" metric refers to the number of subscribers who have watched at least two minutes of a program.)