Netflix reported slower-than-expected growth in worldwide subscribers in its third-quarter report Tuesday, potentially reflecting an impact from its controversial Cuties movie and a subsequent boycott.
Netflix said it had gained a net 2.20 million worldwide subscribers compared to the 3.57 million that investors were expecting and the 6.8 million net subscribers it added during the same quarter one year earlier, CNBC reported.
In the U.S., Netflix netted only 177,000 new subscribers during the third quarter.
The streaming giant was hit this fall with a boycott over Cuties a TV-MA film about a group of 11-year-old girls who join a dance group and dance in sexually suggestive ways. A Twitter clip that amassed more than 22 million views showed the girls on stage dressed in revealing outfits while they twerked and touched one another. A Texas grand jury indicted Netflix earlier this month for “promotion of lewd visual material” depicting children. Netflix has stood by the movie.
Gary Levin, USA Today’s TV editor, surmised the boycott may have played a role in the lack of subscriber growth.
“It’s impossible to attribute the lower numbers directly to the ‘Cuties’-inspired boycott drive. But at least two analytics firms said last month their data showed Netflix was suffering higher ‘churn’ rates, which measure subscription cancellations, in the immediate aftermath of a #CancelNetflix movement that began online,” Levin wrote.
Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, said Tuesday that Netflix must be held accountable for its content.
“Netflix is facing significant international scrutiny, including potentially thousands of subscription cancellations, over its sexually exploitative film, Cuties, and rightly so,” Winter said in a statement. “… Netflix cannot simply sweep this matter under the rug. It faces a criminal indictment from a Texas grand jury, and we are also calling for a federal investigation to determine if sexual exploitation laws were broken. Netflix must be held publicly to account for Cuties and the numerous other programs it distributes that sexualize children for the sake of entertainment.”
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