Netflix shares tumble as subscriber growth cools

Netflix shares tumble as subscriber growth cools
This Aug. 13, 2020 photo shows a logo for Netflix on a remote control in Portland, Ore. (AP)
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Updated 21 April 2021

Netflix shares tumble as subscriber growth cools

Netflix shares tumble as subscriber growth cools
  • Netflix executives had cautioned in past quarters that the pandemic fueled a surge in subscriptions, with people who would have eventually signed up jumping on board sooner than they might have

SAN FRANCISCO: Netflix shares plunged Tuesday after the leading streaming service reported cooling growth in paid subscriptions that had caught fire during the pandemic.
While revenue jumped 24 percent in the first quarter of this year when compared to the same period in 2020, paid memberships grew less than expected to 208 million, Netflix said in its quarterly earnings release.
New subscriber additions were some two million below Netflix's forecast.
"We believe paid membership growth slowed due to the big Covid-19 pull forward in 2020 and a lighter content slate in the first half of this year, due to Covid-19 production delays," executives said in the release.
Netflix reported profit was up to a stunning $1.7 billion on revenue of $7.2 billion, as subscribers weathered price increases.
The Silicon Valley-based company said it expected subscriber growth to accelerate anew later this year as it releases sequels to hit shows.
"We had those ten years where we were growing smooth as silk," Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said on a streamed earnings call.
"It is just a little wobbly right now."
Netflix executives had cautioned in past quarters that the pandemic fueled a surge in subscriptions, with people who would have eventually signed up jumping on board sooner than they might have.
"We continue to anticipate a strong second half with the return of new seasons of some of our biggest hits and an exciting film lineup," Netflix said in an earnings letter.
A shift from traditional television to streamed services such as Netflix remains a clear trend, according to the company.
However, competition is also ramping up from Disney, Amazon and other titans.
"More and more new streaming services are launching, reinforcing our vision that linear TV will slowly give way to streaming entertainment," Netflix said.
"We're working as hard as ever to continually improve our service so that we are the best entertainment option available."
But the sharp deceleration suggested slower growth ahead from Netflix, sending shares down some 11 percent in after-hours trade.
Hastings said that competition in the streaming television market has been consistently fierce, with Amazon Prime and Hulu as rivals for more than a decade.
The cooling is a "sign that the world is coming back to more normal at the expense of Netflix," tweeted Gene Munster of the investment firm Loup Ventures. "We think the long-term growth is flattish."

Productions delays caused by the pandemic have resulted in the release of many original Netflix shows being delayed until the second half of this year, according to the company.
"While the roll out of vaccines is very uneven across the world, we are back up and producing safely in every major market, with the exception of Brazil and India," Netflix said.
The streaming television service expected to spend more than $17 billion on a wide range of content, much of it original.
New seasons of hit shows set for release later this year included Sex Education, The Witcher, La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), and You.
Original films slated to arrive included the finale to The Kissing Booth trilogy; Red Notice starring Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, and Don't Look Up which has a cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, and Meryl Streep.
Netflix is also investing in shows made by talent outside the US, finding "locally authentic stories" from around the world resonate with viewers.
"We're increasingly seeing that these local titles find significant audiences around the world, which supports our thesis that great stories are universal," Netflix said.,
Examples of recent local language hits included Lupin, a series based on French novels telling tales of a daring gentleman burglar, according to Netflix.
A second season of Lupin is due out later this year.


How East Jerusalem flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah got its own hashtag

How East Jerusalem flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah got its own hashtag
Updated 17 May 2021

How East Jerusalem flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah got its own hashtag

How East Jerusalem flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah got its own hashtag

JERUSALEM: Israeli police in riot gear pushed a Palestinian protester to the ground in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, a moment captured on the smartphones of people looking on.
“See what they’re doing! They’re beating up women!” Aya Khalaf, a Palestinian social media influencer, screamed in the background as she caught the May 9 incident on a live stream to her 187,000 Instagram followers.
The scene is one of several shared on social media from the near-nightly confrontations between Israeli police and protesters against the expulsion of eight Palestinian families from the neighborhood, which is claimed by Jewish settlers.
The hashtag “#SaveSheikhJarrah” has gained momentum overseas, with British singer Dua Lipa and Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis among those expressing solidarity.
In October last year, an Israeli court ruled in favor of settlers who say the Palestinian families are living on land that used to belong to Jews.
Palestinians are appealing the decision at Israel’s Supreme Court.
But a court hearing was delayed earlier this month amid rising tensions at Sheikh Jarrah — which lies just a few minutes’ walk from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, another recent flashpoint.
Anger over the proposed evictions was a key factor behind tensions in Jerusalem over the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which last week escalated far beyond the holy city into the worst hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians for years.
Portraying itself as the defender of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the militant Islamist group Hamas launched a rocket assault on Israel, which hit back with multiple air and artillery strikes on Gaza.
A week later, nearly 200 people have been killed in Gaza, including 58 children, Gaza’s health ministry said, and 10 people have been killed in Israel, two of them children, according to authorities.
On Sunday in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian driver who had crashed his car into a police roadblock, injuring six officers.


AP’s top editor calls for probe into Israeli airstrike on media building

AP’s top editor calls for probe into Israeli airstrike on media building
Updated 17 May 2021

AP’s top editor calls for probe into Israeli airstrike on media building

AP’s top editor calls for probe into Israeli airstrike on media building
  • AP’s executive editor said the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack
  • She said AP journalists were “rattled” after the airstrike but are doing fine and reporting the news

WASHINGTON: The Associated Press’ top editor is calling for an independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the AP, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media, saying the public deserves to know the facts.
Separately, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s bombing of a building housing the media organizations as a possible war crime.
Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, said Sunday that the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack, which leveled the 12-story Al-Jalaa tower.
The Israeli military, which gave AP journalists and other tenants about an hour to evacuate, claimed Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel was compiling evidence for the US but declined to commit to providing it within the next two days.
“We’re in the middle of fighting,” Conricus said Sunday. “That’s in process and I’m sure in due time that information will be presented.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would share any evidence of Hamas’ presence in the targeted building through intelligence channels. But neither the White House nor the State Department would say if any American official had seen it.
Buzbee said the AP has had offices in Al-Jalaa tower for 15 years and never was informed or had any indication that Hamas might be in the building. She said the facts must be laid out.
“We are in a conflict situation,” Buzbee said. “We do not take sides in that conflict. We heard Israelis say they have evidence; we don’t know what that evidence is.”
“We think it’s appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look at what happened yesterday — an independent investigation,” she added.
In remarks Sunday, Netanyahu repeated Israel’s claim that the building housed an intelligence office of Hamas. Asked if he had relayed supporting evidence of that in a call with President Joe Biden on Saturday, Netanyahu said that “we pass it through our intelligence people.”
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF, said in a letter to the court’s chief prosecutor that the offices of 23 international and local media organizations have been destroyed over the past six days.
RSF said it had strong reason to believe that the Israeli military’s “intentional targeting of media organizations and intentional destruction of their equipment” could violate one of the court’s statutes. It said the attacks serve “to reduce, if not neutralize, the media’s capacity to inform the public.”
RSF asked the international court, based in the Dutch city of The Hague, to include the recent attacks in a war crimes probe opened in March into Israel’s practices in Palestinian territories.
Buzbee said the AP journalists were “rattled” after the airstrike but are doing fine and reporting the news. She expressed concern about the impact on news coverage.
“This does impact the world’s right to know what is happening on both sides of the conflict in real time,” she said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone Saturday with AP’s president and CEO, Gary Pruitt. The State Department said Blinken offered “his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones.”
Buzbee and Conricus spoke on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and Netanyahu was on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”


Israeli police assault Sky News Arabia reporter in Jerusalem

Israeli police assault Sky News Arabia reporter in Jerusalem
Updated 16 May 2021

Israeli police assault Sky News Arabia reporter in Jerusalem

Israeli police assault Sky News Arabia reporter in Jerusalem
  • Sky News Arabia crew were covering a car-ramming incident in Sheikh Jarrah
  • Israeli police officers were seen violently pushing Firas Lutfi

LONDON: Israeli police assaulted a reporter from Sky News Arabia on Sunday as he covered a car-ramming attack in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Israeli police killed a Palestinian youth after he ran over four police officers at a checkpoint in Sheikh Jarrah, which has been at the center of recent tensions.
The Sky News Arabia crew filming at the scene said police assaulted correspondent Firas Lutfi, and tried to break their camera.
“They beat me and tried to break the camera to prevent us from covering,” Lutfi said, adding the crew was able to transmit direct images of the incident and complete the coverage.
Shortly after, police officers were seen violently pushing Lutfi and one officer tried to block the camera with his hand.
Israeli police said four officers were injured in the attack and that the neighborhood has been sealed off.
Clashes erupted in the area between Palestinians and Israeli forces last month after Israel planned to evict Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.
Those protests spread to Al-Aqsa mosque and sparked the exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.


US joins global push against violent extremism online

The US government and four other countries joined the effort, known as the Christchurch Call, for the first time this year. (File/AFP)
The US government and four other countries joined the effort, known as the Christchurch Call, for the first time this year. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2021

US joins global push against violent extremism online

The US government and four other countries joined the effort, known as the Christchurch Call, for the first time this year. (File/AFP)
  • It was part of a global effort started by Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after deadly attacks in their countries were streamed or shared on social networks
  • Since its launch, governments and tech companies have cooperated in some cases in identifying violent extremist content online

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: Two years after a white supremacist in New Zealand livestreamed the slaughter of 51 Muslim worshippers on Facebook, French President Emmanuel Macron says the Internet continues to be be used by terrorists as a weapon to propagate hate.
Macron and other leaders from tech giants and governments around the world — including the US for the first time — gathered virtually on Saturday to find better ways to stop extremist violence from spreading online, while also respecting freedom of expression.
It was part of a global effort started by Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after deadly attacks in their countries were streamed or shared on social networks.
The US government and four other countries joined the effort, known as the Christchurch Call, for the first time this year. It involves some 50 nations plus tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, and is named for the New Zealand city where the slaughter at the two mosques took place.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a prerecorded video that authorities in his country alone had taken down more than 300,000 pieces of terrorist material from the Internet over the past decade, which he described as a tsunami of hate.
“Terrorist content is like a metastasizing tumor within the Internet, or series of tumors,” Johnson said. “If we fail to excise it, it will inevitably spread into homes and high streets the world over.”
Since its launch, governments and tech companies have cooperated in some cases in identifying violent extremist content online. Ardern, however, said more tangible progress is needed to stop it from proliferating.
The meeting was aimed at revitalizing coordination efforts, notably since President Joe Biden entered office, and getting more tech companies involved. Macron and Ardern welcomed the US decision as a potential catalyst for stronger action.
Macron said the Internet had continued to be used as a tool in recent attacks in the US, Vienna, Germany and elsewhere. He said it cannot happen again, and that new European regulations against extremist content would help.
Ardern said that two years after the Christchurch Call was launched, momentum was strong. But she acknowledged the challenge in essentially playing whac-a-mole with different countries, Internet platforms and algorithms that can foster extremist content.
“The existence of algorithms themselves is not necessarily the problem, it’s whether or not they are being ethically used,” Ardern said. “And so that is probably the biggest focus for the Call community over the next year.”
She said part of the solution also came in better equipping a younger generation of Internet users to have the skills to deal with radical content or disinformation when they encounter it online.
Although the US only officially joined the Christchurch Call this year, it had been consistently contributing to the effort, Ardern said.
“Countering the use of the Internet by terrorists and violent extremists to radicalize and recruit is a significant priority for the United States,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. She also stressed the importance of protecting freedom of expression and “reasonable expectations of privacy.”


AP releases statement after Israeli attack on building housing media offices

AP releases statement after Israeli attack on building housing media offices
Updated 16 May 2021

AP releases statement after Israeli attack on building housing media offices

AP releases statement after Israeli attack on building housing media offices
  • We are horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau: Pruitt

NEW YORK:  An Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets on Saturday. All AP employees and freelancers evacuated the building safely.
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt has released the following statement:
We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza. They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.
We are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the US State Department to try to learn more.
This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.
The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.

The strike on the high-rise came nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the 12-story building, which also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices and residential apartments.