Change in subscription plan doing wonders for Netflix, attracts 5 million monthly users in just 6 months

Netflix Inc. said its new ad-supported subscription plan has attracted 5 million monthly active users, six months after its launch.

About the plan:

The $7-a-month plan, less than half the price of its most popular offering, is aimed at juicing growth in an industry where new streaming customers have been harder to come by, particularly domestically.

The monthly users aren’t necessarily subscribers. Some people could be sharing plans. Still, the number may allay some fears that the ad-supported offering has gotten off to a slow start.

Netflix had 233 million paying members globally at the end of the first quarter.

The company shared the result at its first-ever appearance at the upfronts, an annual ritual where TV networks present their lineups to media buyers in New York.

About the special event:

The streaming industry leader had planned to host the event in-person at its Paris theater but shifted to a virtual one after screenwriters went on strike and threatened to picket the venue.

The Netflix event caps what has been an unusual week for the industry. The upfronts were thrown into chaos by striking TV and film writers, who walked out on May 2. Writers banging drums and chanting “no contract, no peace” marched in front of Walt Disney Co.’s presentation at the Javits Center on Tuesday.

Actors who would normally be present at the events largely refused to cross picket lines, leaving executives nervously reading teleprompters before the audiences of ad buyers and journalists. The strike also raised questions about whether the networks will even be able to deliver some of the shows they’re promoting by the time the new season starts in September.

Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal kicked off its event on Monday with a musical number featuring Ted, the foul-mouthed animated Teddy bear played by Seth MacFarlane, who’s getting his own show on the Peacock streaming service.

But the company also had to acknowledge some high level departures. The head of ad sales, Linda Yaccarino, left to become chief executive officer of Twitter Inc.

Words from Lazarus:

“We’ve had some changes around here but the strength, expertise and spirit of this company remain not only intact, but stronger than ever,” Lazarus said.

The current scenario:

Fox Corp.’s news, sports and reality TV personalities made up for the lack of actors at its event. The Fox broadcast network announced six new shows for the upcoming season; two dramas, two animated series and two game shows.

Disney’s ABC leaned heavily on its reality TV slate in its fall schedule announcement with returning shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Bachelor in Paradise. Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. also promoted new unscripted programming, including a travel show featuring comedian Conan O’Brien and one from actor Robert Downey Jr. about restoring classic cars.

Even though the upfronts are rooted in the sale of TV spots on traditional TV networks, all of the companies emphasized their streaming businesses this week. NBCUniversal announced that it would stream a National Football League Wild Card Playoff game exclusively on its Peacock service in January, the first time the league has done that.

Disney recruited YouTube sports commentator Pat McAfee, who’ll air his show on the company’s ESPN cable TV and online networks starting later this year.


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