Stock Netflix
Netflix Image Credit: AP

Los Angeles: Netflix Inc fell short of Wall Street forecasts for new subscribers at the end of last year and offered a weaker-than-expected forecast for early 2022 as rivals amped up the competition in the battle for streaming television viewers.

The world’s largest streaming service added 8.3 million customers from October to December, when it released a heavy lineup of new programming including the star-studded movies “Red Notice” and “Don’t Look Up” and a new season of “The Witcher.” Industry analysts had projected Netflix would add 8.4 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Shares of Netflix dropped 10 per cent in after-hours trading on Thursday.

The company’s global subscriber total reached 221.8 million.

Netflix last week raised prices in its biggest market, the United States and Canada, where analysts say growth is stagnating, and is now looking for growth overseas.

The company rode a roller coaster during the pandemic, with steep growth early in 2020 when people were staying home and movie theaters were closed, followed by a slowdown in 2021.

Netflix picked up more than 36 million customers in 2020, and 18.2 million in 2021.

In 2022, Netflix’s subscriber growth had been expected to stabilize and return to the pace logged before the pandemic, analysts say. The company’s upcoming slate includes new installments of “Ozark,” “Bridgerton” and “Stranger Things” and a three-part Kanye West documentary.

But competitors including Walt Disney Co and AT&T Inc’s HBO Max, are pouring billions into creating new programming to grab a share of the streaming market.

Netflix reported fourth-quarter revenue of $7.71 billion, in line with estimates of $7.71 billion.