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Canberra Today 2°/7° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

‘Danger Things’? Subscriber trouble for Netflix

Can “Stranger Things” save Netflix? The upcoming fourth season reportedly has a budget of $270 million.

This year Netflix has been bleeding hundreds of thousands of subscribers, spelling trouble for the world’s leading streaming platform, writes “Streaming” columnist NICK OVERALL.

IN the first two months of 2022, entertainment giant Netflix lost more than 200,000 users resulting in a stock price crash of 25 per cent.

Nick Overall.

It’s led the platform to take drastic measures to cushion its fall, including the cancellation of several projects. 

These include “Bone”, an adaptation of a popular comic book series, and “Bright 2”, a sequel to the 2017 hit film starring Will Smith. It hasn’t been confirmed whether or not Smith’s slap at the Oscars has anything to do with that.

Now Netflix is even talking about introducing ads under an optional, cheaper subscription package, a move it has resisted for years.

The absence of ads was among the platform’s key draw cards when it started streaming content in 2007.

The company has also announced a crackdown on password sharing.

Many users of streaming platforms will be familiar with jumping on a friend’s or family member’s account with their password to get access free of charge.

Netflix itself once upon a time even liked the idea, with the company years ago tweeting “Love is sharing a password”.

Now the platform is looking to charge a small additional fee for each separate household using the same account.

The changes have an already deteriorating user base even more angry, with many people taking to social media to say the second they see an ad on the platform is the second they’ll ditch their subscription.

Amidst the catastrophe, Netflix will be relying heavily on the upcoming fourth season of “Stranger Things” to save the day, one of the platform’s most popular television shows and which played a key part in driving its widespread popularity.

The ‘80s sci-fi horror hit’s newest season releasing on May 27 reportedly has a budget of more than $30 million an episode, making it even more expensive than the final season of “Game of Thrones”.

It would seem the platform is throwing everything they have at the series to recapture some faith in their platform. If there is one show that has a chance of helping, “Stranger Things” is it. The show’s excellent third season, which was released in 2019, was watched by more than 64 million households within its first month of streaming.

So the question is, why are people jumping ship?

Netflix currently has around 220 million subscribers, which is by no means diddly squat, but many believe the figure may represent the platform’s “subscriber peak”. Its loss of users represents the first time in 10 years the platform has gone down in subscribers.

It may be due to just how fierce the competition between streaming platforms has become.

Whereas other streaming platforms once upon a time simply did not have the content to compete with what was available on Netflix, these days movies and TV shows of astounding quality and popularity can be found on any platform.

Foxtel’s Binge features some of the world’s biggest content such as “Game of Thrones”. Stan is rolling out new stuff quicker than ever before, including the final season of “Better Call Saul” in Australia. Disney Plus has Ewan McGregor returning as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a highly anticipated “Star Wars” spin off this month.

Amazon Prime Video costs as little as $7 a month. In comparison, Netflix’s most expensive package costs $23 and its cheapest package starts at $11.

However, the sheer choice between platforms has also become annoying for many people.

To group together every major streaming platform in Australia and get access to all the best and newest TV shows, a household would have to pay around $60 a month. Those prices are similar to what cable TV was once upon a time. 

In turn, it has many people frustrated and talking candidly online about illegally downloading content for free. Piracy was a phenomenon that Netflix had significantly reduced with its ease of accessibility.

It will be interesting to see how things play out for Netflix in the coming months, but the more the platform makes panicked overhauls the more people they’ll turn away. 

What Netflix needs to rely on is good old, quality storytelling and “Stranger Things” will certainly be shouldering that responsibility over the coming months. To company executives a crashing stock price is far scarier than any Demogorgon they’ve ever put to screen before.

 

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Nick Overall

Nick Overall

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