An unexpected drop in subscribers sent Netflix shares into freefall Wednesday, forcing the company to consider experimenting with ads and — hold onto your remote — cracking down on millions of freeloaders who use passwords shared by friends or family.
The surprising net loss of 200,000 subscribers rattled investors, who had been told by the company to expect a gain of 2.5 million subscribers. Netflix shares sank 35% on the news, falling to their lowest level since early 2018.
Netflix estimates that about 100 million households worldwide — or roughly one out of every three households using its service — are streaming for free. “We’ve just got to get paid at some degree for them,” co-CEO Reed Hastings said during a shareholder call Tuesday.
I subscribe to Netflix, as well as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Paramount+. But I’ll be honest: I could live without most of them, and maybe all of them. I find that I watch YouTube more than any of them — and I’m not talking about YouTube’s paid streaming service. I’m talking about regular, plain-ol’ YouTube: videos uploaded by average Joes, just like me. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of great content on YouTube, and it gets better every day. YouTube has allowed a lot of folks to unleash their creativity. Of course most of them are aspiring to make money, and some of them are (a few of them make darned good money, and good for them).