After over a decade of limited competition, Netflix (NFLX -0.58%) faces stiff resistance from new rivals entering the streaming industry. Several deep-pocketed studios launched their own streaming services during the pandemic -- at what they thought to be excellent timing. The move came after years of Netflix eating into their profits, capturing folks canceling cable subscriptions and moving to streaming video instead.
As a result, Netflix's subscriber and revenue growth is slowing, leading the streaming pioneer to consider options for reviving the momentum it has lost. Shareholders need not despair, as the company has some options at its disposal. Let's look at a few.
1. Lower-priced ad-supported version
Netflix has so far resisted suggestions it should launch a lower-priced ad-supported version of its service. However, after evidence from competitors reveals the strategy works, Netflix may want to reconsider. Indeed, CEO Reed Hastings, in the company's most recent conference call on April 19, said:
"And those who have followed Netflix know that I've been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription. But as much I'm a fan of that, I'm a bigger fan of consumer choice. And allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant get what they want makes a lot of sense. So that's something we're looking at now. We're trying to figure out over the next year or two. But think of us as quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising as a consumer choice."
2. Limited account access
Netflix has undoubtedly known about account sharing for quite some time. Until recently, it had largely ignored the phenomenon. Now that subscriber growth has stalled, it is an opportune time to address this issue. In its most recent earnings release on April 19, Management noted that an estimated 100 million households share a Netflix subscription. Already, Netflix is working on capturing additional revenue from the folks who are viewing the content but not paying for it.
3. Launching series weekly instead of all at once
Those who have had a Netflix subscription over the years have likely noticed a big difference in how it releases new series compared to traditional media companies. Netflix launches series all at once in an attempt to encourage binge-watching, where folks consume all of the new content in a single sitting. While that may promote engagement around popular titles, it could hurt subscriber retention.
Folks who are members of Netflix for two or three hit shows can watch the series on the same day it comes out, pause or cancel their subscription until their next favorite show comes out, and then restart. In that way, they may pay for only a few months of service in a year. If Netflix were to spread out the release of the series one episode per week, it could induce these customers to pay for more months of service during a year.
4. Release blockbusters on the big screen first
Another unique aspect of Netflix that it may consider changing is that it releases all its new films straight to the streaming service, skipping the box office entirely. The strategy may be working against the streaming pioneer as the big screen creates a lot of buzz around hit films. More importantly, competitors generate billions in revenue at the box office, which helps support bigger content budgets. For instance, the latest Batman movie has earned $760 million at the box office and is now available on HBO Max.
A final word
Netflix lost subscribers for the first time in nearly a decade. Further, it is forecasting a loss of two million subs in the second quarter of 2022. The strategy it operated under with limited competition worked well, but with competitors entering the fray, it might be time for a change. The stock is down 71% off its high, so it likely needs to demonstrate an effective adjustment sooner rather than later.