Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Squid Game helps propel surge in Netflix subscriptions

Netflix subscriptions picked up in the third quarter of 2021 as non-English language shows continued to be the streaming platform’s best performers, the BBC reports. The U.S. firm added 4.4 million users in the three months to Sept. 30, more than double the previous quarter. Korean TV series Squid Game was its biggest hit, watched by 142 million households in its first four weeks. It comes as some Netflix staff prepared to walk out on Wednesday amid a backlash over comedian Dave Chappelle. They accuse the star of mocking transgender people in his latest Netflix special, but the firm has defended him. The strong performance for Netflix follows a sluggish start to 2021, when the surging demand for streaming seen earlier on in the pandemic petered out. The world’s largest streaming platform, Netflix expects to add some 8.5 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. It’s being driven by popular shows such as Sex Education, the Queen’s Gambit and the global smash Squid Game. The dystopian series has become a viral sensation and dethroned period drama Bridgerton as Netflix’s most popular show to date. According to Bloomberg, the Korean series is thought to be worth some $900 million to the streaming giant, after costing $21.4 million to produce. Another non-English language show, La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist), also did well, with series five being watched by 69 million viewers in its first four weeks. In a memo to staff earlier this month, Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos acknowledged some staff were “left angry” by Chappelle’s show, but defended the comic’s artistic freedom and said the material had not caused “real-world harm”. On Tuesday, however, Sarandos said he regretted this initial response and should have done more to recognize staff’s “pain”. He also said the firm did not plan to take down, edit or add content warnings to Chappelle’s show. “Stand-up comedy is a pretty singular-voice art form,” he told Deadline. “We really don’t get involved and interfere with the material itself, and I think it’s consistent with a brand of stand-up comedy and certainly consistent with Dave Chappelle’s comedy, so I don’t think a warning card or an edit would’ve been appropriate.”

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