By Associated Press | Updated: 20 July 2022
Netflix shed almost 1 million subscribers during the spring amid tougher competition and soaring inflation that’s squeezing household budgets, heightening the urgency behind the video streaming service’s effort to launch a cheaper option with commercial interruptions. The April-June contraction of 970,000 accounts, announced Tuesday as part of Netflix’s second-quarter earnings report, is by far the largest quarterly subscriber loss in the company’s 25-year history. It could have been far worse, though, considering Netflix management released an April forecast calling for a loss of 2 million subscribers during the second quarter.
Netflix was probably spared from deeper losses by the ongoing popularity of “Stranger Things,” its science fiction/horror series that debuted in 2016. Following the release of the series’ fourth season in late May, Netflix said, viewers watched a total of 1.3 billion hours of it over the next four weeks — more than any other English-language series in the service’s history.
The less severe loss in subscribers, combined with an outlook calling for a return to growth in the July-September period. helped lift Netflix’s battered stock by 7 percent in extended trading after the numbers came out.
Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings didn’t try to sugarcoat things during a Tuesday conference call about the results. “It’s tough losing a million subscribers and calling it a success,” he said.
The company’s April-June regression follows a loss of 200,000 subscribers during the first three months of the year, marking the first time Netflix’s subscriber totals have shrunk in consecutive quarters since its transition from offering DVD-by-mail rentals to video streaming began 15 years ago.
The loss of nearly 1.2 million subscribers during first half of this year also provides a start contrast to the pandemic-driven growth that Netflix enjoyed during the first half of 2020 when its streaming service picked up nearly 26 million subscribers.
Despite the downturn, Netflix still earned $1.4 billion (roughly Rs. 11,200 crore), or $3.20 (roughly Rs. 260) per share during the quarter, a 6 percent increase from the same time last year. Revenue rose 9 percent from the same time last year to nearly $8 billion (roughly Rs. 64,000 crore).
Netflix ended June with 220.7 million worldwide subscribers. far more than any of its new competitors such as Walt Disney Co. and Apple. And in a hopeful sign, Netflix management predicted its service will add about 1 million subscribers during the July-September period, signalling the worst of its slump may be over.
Although Netflix’s springtime subscriber losses weren’t as bad as investors and management feared, the downturn served as a grim reminder of the challenges now facing the Los Gatos, California, company after a decade of unbridled growth.
Netflix’s stock price has plunged by nearly 70 percent so far this year, wiping out about $180 billion (roughly Rs. 14,39,200 crore) in shareholder wealth. Since then, other video streaming services have made big strides in attracting viewers, with Apple winning accolades for its award-winning line-up of TV series and films while Disney’s popular line-up of family-friendly titles continues to gain traction.
At the same time, Netflix has been raising its prices to help pay for its own original programming, just as the highest inflation rates in 40 years have led consumers to curb spending on discretionary items such as entertainment.
“Netflix is still the leader in video streaming but unless it finds more franchises that resonate widely, it will eventually struggle to stay ahead of competitors that are after its crown,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Ross Benes.
Sensing potential trouble brewing, Netflix began branching out last year by adding free video games to its streaming service.
But that obviously hasn’t been enough to propel subscriber growth, prompting Netflix’s April announcement that it will crack down on the rampant sharing of subscriber passwords and take another step it once scorned by offering a less expensive tier of its service that will include commercial interruptions. Without providing further specifics, Netflix said Tuesday that both the ad-supported plan and the crackdown on password sharing will begin early next year. The company didn’t say how much the streaming option with commercials will cost.
Netflix took another step toward putting together the ad=supported option last week when it announced it will team up with Microsoft to deliver the commercials.
“We have some headwinds right now and we are navigating through them,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said at the end of Tuesday’s conference call. “We’ve seen entertainment formats come and go, we’ve seen entertainment business models come and go, and we have managed to grow through all of them, though all kinds of economic conditions and through all levels of competition.”
Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans wins Toronto audience award
By: Associated Press, Beijing | September 18, 2022
Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama The Fabelmans won the Toronto International Film Festival’s top prize, the People’s Choice Award, solidifying its early status as Academy Awards frontrunner.
Toronto’s audience award was announced Sunday as the largest North American film festival wrapped up its 47th edition and first full-scale gathering in three years. The return of crowds at TIFF brought the world premieres of a number of anticipated crowd pleasers, including the Viola Davis-led The Woman King, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Billy Eichner’s Bros.
Toronto’s audience award, voted on by festival moviegoers, is a much-watched harbinger of the coming awards season. Each of the last ten years, the TIFF winner has gone on to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars — and often won it. Last year, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast triumphed at a much-diminished hybrid Toronto International Film Festival. The year before that, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland took TIFF’s award before winning at the Academy Awards. Other past winners include 12 Years a Slave, La La Land and Green Book.
This year, no film came into the festival more anticipated than The Fabelmans, Spielberg’s memory-infused film about his childhood. In the movie, which Universal Pictures will release Nov. 11, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents, with newcomer Gabriel LaBelle as teenage Spielberg, Sammy Fabelman. The film scored rave reviews after its premiere.
“This is the most personal film I’ve made and the warm reception from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire ‘Fabelman’ family,’” Spielberg said in a statement read by Cameron Bailey, festival director.
The first runner-up to the prize was Sarah Polley’s Woman Talking, about the female members of a Mennonite colony gathered to discuss years of sexual abuse. The second runner-up went to Johnson’s Glass Onion, the director’s whodunit sequel for Netflix.
Audience in other sections of the festival also vote for People’s Choice awards. The festival’s audience prize for documentary went to “Black Ice,” Hubert Davis’ film about the history of Black hockey players executive produced by LeBron James. The midnight section winner was “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” Eric Appel’s music biopic parody co-written with Yankovic and starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Wow, said Appel in a statement. “I never in a million years thought that our satire of traditional awards films would actually win an award, itself.”
Shopify offers workers greater say in compensation structure to attract talent
By: Reuters, September 16, 2022
Sept 16 (Reuters) – Shopify Inc said on Friday it has introduced a new compensation system that allows staff more flexibility in restructuring their awards between cash and equity, as the e-commerce major seeks to attract and retain workers.
As many as 91% of the eligible employees have already enrolled in the new system, Flex Comp, the company said.
“An employee saving to buy a house can choose to take home more in cash. Someone planning for their children’s future can opt for more RSUs or options,” Shopify Chief Human Resources Officer Tia Silas said in an interview.
The share vesting will begin immediately as one-year cliffs on equity have been removed, Silas added.
The company, which offers tools and payment systems for merchants to set up their online stores, last week named investment banker Jeff Hoffmeister as its financial head to help it navigate a challenging environment with several headwinds including high inflation and lower demand.
The Canadian company has said in the past it would cut about a 10th of its workforce and review its operations to slash spending given a challenging environment, with cost-conscious consumers cutting back on online purchases.
Shopify, whose shares were down about 4% in early trading amid a broader decline in stocks, said it has no additional workforce reductions planned.
YouTube, Meta will expand policies, research to fight online extremism
By: Reuters, September 16, 2022
Major tech companies on Thursday committed to taking fresh steps to combat online extremism by removing more violent content and promoting media literacy with young users, as part of a White House summit on fighting hate-fueled violence.
Platforms like Alphabet’s YouTube and Meta Platforms’ Facebook have come under fire for years from critics who say the companies have allowed hate speech, lies and violent rhetoric to flourish on their services.
US President Joe Biden earlier on Thursday called on Americans to combat racism and extremism during a summit at the White House that gathered experts and survivors and included bipartisan local leaders.
YouTube said it will expand its policies on violent extremism to remove content that glorifies violent acts, even if the creators of the videos are not related to a terrorist organization.
The video streaming site already prohibits violent incitement, but in at least some cases has not applied existing policies to videos promoting militia groups involved with the January 6 storming of the US Capitol.
A report by the Tech Transparency Project in May found 435 pro-militia videos on YouTube, including 85 posted since the Jan. 6 attack. Some of the videos gave training advice, like how to carry out guerilla-style ambushes.
YouTube spokesman Jack Malon declined to say whether the service would change its approach to that content under the new policy, but said the update enables it to go further with enforcement than it had previously.
YouTube also said it will launch a media literacy campaign to teach younger users how to spot the
manipulation tactics that are used to spread misinformation.
Microsoft said it will make a basic and more affordable version of its artificial intelligence and machine learning tools available to schools and smaller organizations in order to help them detect and prevent violence.
Facebook owner Meta announced it will partner with researchers from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism.
Last year, lawmakers grilled the chief executives of Alphabet and Facebook, as well as Twitter Inc, on whether their companies bore some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack
Netflix axes ‘Resident Evil’ after one season
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 28 August 2022
Los Angeles, Aug 28 (PTI) “Resident Evil”, the Netflix action horror series loosely based on the popular video game franchise, will not return for a second season.
The development comes a month and a half after the show premiered on July 14.
According to entertainment website Deadline, the decision to pull the plug on the series was not as a bolt from the blue as it did not have a particularly impressive showing on the streamer’s Top 10 trending list.
Set in an post-apocalyptic world in the year 2036, “Resident Evil” follows Jade Wesker (played by Ella Balinska) who fights for survival in a world overrun by the blood-thirsty infected and insane creatures. She is haunted by her past in New Raccoon City, by her father’s chilling connections to the Umbrella Corporation but mostly by what happened to her sister, Billie.
Lance Reddick, Tamara Smart, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph and Paola Nunez with additional cast members Ahad Raza Mir, Connor Gosatti and Turlough Convery also starred in the show.
Showrunner Andrew Dabb executive produced and wrote “Resident Evil” with Mary Leah Sutton. Robert Kulzer and Oliver Berben of Constantin Film also served as executive producers on the series.
Bang!: Idris Elba, Bullet Train Director David Leitch Set Spy Thriller Movie at Netflix
By ANI | Updated: 4 August 2022
Idris Elba is set to star in Bang!, a spy thriller movie on Netflix, with Bullet Train and Deadpool 2 director David Leitch helming it.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Elba — best known for Luther and Hobbs & Shaw — will appear in the movie that is based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name.
The film adaptation comes from Matt Kindt and Zak Olkewicz (Bullet Train). Kindt is one half of the creators on the comic book series Bang! alongside Wilfredo Torres.
Bang! will depict a terrorist group that plans to bring about the end of the world by brainwashing readers with a series of books, while the most renowned spy in the world is dispatched to find and assassinate the author.
Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg for Dark Horse, Leitch and Kelly McCormick for 87 North, and Elba are the Bang! producers.
In addition to working on Mind MGMT, a television version of the Kindt humour book series, Netflix and Dark Horse Entertainment are also extending their creative collaboration. Curtis Gwinn (Stranger Things) will serve as executive producer.
In Mind MGMT, a young woman accidentally discovers the top-secret Mind Management software. As she searches for the man who was Mind Management’s greatest success — and its most disastrous failure — she encounters weaponised psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and apparently eternal pursuers.
Gwinn, Richardson, and Keith Goldberg are Dark Horse’s executive producers.
Dark Horse, which has a first look agreement with Netflix for film and TV, has more titles in development too.
There’s Lady Killer, an action thriller movie about a 1950s housewife leading a secret life as a highly-trained killer for hire, with Blake Lively starring and producing.
Revenge Inc. is a drama series about a secret, underground company that specialises in vengeance. It is based on the Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich comic book series.
Netflix’s Polar and Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, both starring Mads Mikkelsen, are examples of previous Dark Horse offerings.
Amazon Prime Membership Fees See Double-Digit Hike in Five European Countries: All Details
By Agencies | Updated: 27 July 2022
Amazon Prime customers in five European countries learned Tuesday that they face double-digit price increases for the platform’s expedited delivery service. Amazon said the rises were due to increased operating costs as fuel prices have jumped higher. Beginning in mid-September, customers in France will have to pay 43 percent more for an annual subscription. Italians face a 38.6-percent hike, Spaniards 30.3 percent, and Britons and Germans 20 percent.
The rises take the price of Prime, which in addition to rapid delivery includes access to its Prime Video service, to EUR 49.90 (roughly Rs. 4,000) in Italy and Spain. It will be EUR 89.90 (roughly Rs. 7,300) in France and Germany, and GBP 95 (roughly Rs. 9,150) in Britain.
That leaves the service less costly than in the United States, where it rose by 17 percent earlier this year to $139 (roughly Rs. 11,100) per year.
Back in February, Amazon announced that it was raising the price of its annual US Prime subscriptions as it looked to offset higher costs for shipping and wages that it expected to persist this year.
With more than 200 million members globally, Prime is an incentive to consumers to direct more of their shopping to Amazon. That way, they make the most of their subscriptions. At the time, the company had not announced any changes for Prime members outside the United States
While the price hikes are much higher than inflation, analysts believe that the service costs Amazon much more than it charges and is used to lure and keep customers.
Market intelligence firm Foxintelligence estimated last year that European members of Prime bought on average twice as much on Amazon than non-members.
A handful of angry customers announced their intention to cancel the service on Twitter.
However, Amazon representatives in France were unfazed.
“What we could see in the United States was there wasn’t an opt-out surge because more and more services are offered via Prime and it still allows consumers to realise very considerable savings,” said the firm.
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