Netflix is hurting. Time to bring in video games.
Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) said it would make a deeper dive into video games as the movie and TV streaming service projected weak subscriber growth amid growing competition and the lifting of pandemic restrictions that had kept people at home.
The company’s shares hovered about even at $531.10 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
Netflix is weathering a sharp slowdown in new customers after a boom in 2020 fueled by stay-at-home orders to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. In the United States and Canada, Netflix reported losing about 430,000 subscribers in the second quarter, only its third quarterly decline in 10 years.
The streaming video pioneer said it was in the early stages of expanding its video game offerings, which would be available to subscribers at no extra charge. The company will initially focus primarily on mobile games.
“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV,” the company said in its quarterly letter to shareholders.
The multi-year effort will start “relatively small” with games tied to Netflix hits, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said in a post-earnings video interview.
“We know that fans of those stories want to go deeper. They want to engage further,” Peters said.
Netflix has dabbled in video games with a few titles linked to series including “Stranger Things” and “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”
Some analysts have said the company that dominates streaming video needs to find new ways to jump-start subscriptions after years of rapid expansion. According to eMarketer, Netflix’s share of U.S. revenue from subscription streaming video will shrink to 30.8% by the end of 2021, from nearly 50% in 2018.
“Netflix delivered another underwhelming quarter as competition in the streaming space heats up,” said Investing.com senior analyst Jesse Cohen. “The absence of any new looming growth catalysts has been one of the main reasons for Netflix’s relatively mild performance this year.”