Netflix expects a slow start in 2021 will give way to a 'very strong' second half

From left, Diesel la Torraca as Austin, Antonia Gentry as Ginny, Brianne Howey as Georgia, and Scott Porter as Mayor Paul Randolph in "Ginny & Georgia" on Netflix.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix to released its earnings report for the first quarter of 2021, noting some 207.64 million subscribers worldwide. That's up 13.6 percent year over year, but about 2 million subscribers below what he had predicted for the quarter. Those are problems for investors, though, and not so much those of worried about what to watch.

Netflix mentioned in its letter to shareholders that the lower numbers were due in part to a record bump at the end off 2020, stealing some of the subscribers that it would have seen these past three months. Between that and production levels still getting back up to speed due to the global pandemic, the first half of the year is expected to be lighter than the back half. 

Specifically, Netflix pointed to high-profile returns of Sex Education, The Witcher, La Casa de Papel (we know it as Money Heist in the U.S.), and You. And some tentpole movies are on the way, too, including the finale to The Kissing Booth trilogy, Red Notice, and Don't Look Up.

"There are several facets to our content strategy," Netflix said in the letter. "First and foremost, we want to deliver a wide variety of best-in-class stories that our members love and watch in big numbers."

And members did. Netflix says that some 62 million subscriber households watched Yes Day, 66 million watched Outside the Wire, and 56 million watched I Care a Lot. On the series side, 49 million saw Firefly Lane, Season 3 of Cobra Kai garnered 45 million viewers, and Ginny & Georgia nabbed 52 million. (A reminder that Netflix counts something as a "view" if you chose to watch it and then watched it for at least 2 minutes.)

Netflix also crowed about the "travelability" of its content, which basically means shows and movies that you consume outside of their home country. That includes movies like Space Sweepers (26 million) from Korea, and Who Killed Sara? (55 million) from Mexico. Who Killed Sara? also was the most popular non-English title in the United States in its first 28 days, and Season 2 lands on May 19. The French Lupin also did well worldwide, nabbing 76 million member households in its first 28 days. Part 2 will premiere in the coming weeks.

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.