Netflix is all about the money, not the members


Netflix is moving beyond subscriber numbers. In its first quarter earnings results released on Thursday, Netflix announced that it will stop reporting quarterly membership numbers in 2025 because subscribers are “just one component” of its growth. The change comes after a quarter where it added 9.3 million subscribers, growing to more than 270 million members globally.

Subscriber count meant everything in the early days of streaming. It allows investors, studios, and everyone else to gauge just how well a streaming service is doing compared to the competition, and Netflix has leaned on its lead in that area.

But now, Netflix says it is flipping this idea on its head because it has multiple sources of revenue that don’t hinge solely on monthly memberships.

Its letter to shareholders highlights “new” revenue streams, including advertising through its ad-supported plan and paid sharing. “As we’ve evolved our pricing and plans from a single to multiple tiers with different price points depending on the country, each incremental paid membership has a very different business impact,” Netflix writes in its letter to shareholders. The streamer also won’t report average revenue per member on a quarterly basis.

Instead, Netflix says it will provide a breakdown of revenue by region each quarter, and it will reveal “major subscriber milestones” when it hits them. “Ultimately, we think this is a better approach that reflects the evolution of the business,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during an earnings interview. “Why we focus on engagement is because we believe it’s the single best indicator of member satisfaction with our offering, and it is a leading indicator for retention and acquisition over time.”

In other words, streaming is just getting more like cable. Instead of placing value in the people who sign up for its service, Netflix is betting that they’ll stay subscribed and maybe even pay to add an extra member. As for subscription pricing, co-CEO Greg Peters said during the earnings interview that Netflix doesn’t have a “set ceiling.” It will ask subscribers to pay more as it adds “more entertainment value,” which means the price hikes aren’t over just yet.

(Disclosure: Vox Media Studios produced Full Swing, and The Verge recently produced a series with Netflix.)

Update April 18th, 4:55PM ET: Added a quote from Ted Sarandos.

Update April 18th, 5:38PM ET: Added a quote from Greg Peters.

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