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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Photo by Bloomberg

Netflix’s Domestic Subscriber Dip Might Be Worse News for Rivals

Photo: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Photo by Bloomberg

Things are getting interesting in video streaming. Netflix reported today that it lost 430,000 subscribers in North America in the second quarter. On top of The Information’s report from a few weeks ago that Disney’s flagship service Disney+ has essentially flatlined in the U.S. this year, it implies the two of the biggest players have hit a wall. Perhaps we’re finally seeing signs that American consumers, overwhelmed by the proliferation of subscription services, are saying “enough already!”

Netflix, to be sure, had a different explanation for the falloff in paying customers: It suggested that it lost subscribers because it has so many to start with. (Netflix also claimed the decline was “as expected,” whereas the loss was twice what the company had projected was possible.) Whatever. Companies always explain unexpected reversals in nonsensical terms. But it is true that because Netflix has so many subscribers in North America—about 74 million at the end of June—it can afford to lose a few every now and then without breaking a sweat. 

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