Netflix is on a hot streak. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is the third series to surpass one billion hours viewed (about 112 million complete season streams) in 60 days, just behind Stranger Things 4 and Squid Game. Wednesday, the new Addams Family coming-of-age series from Tim Burton, delivered the biggest premiere weekend of any English-speaking title on the service. The show amassed more than 750 million hours viewed over the past two weeks, and will likely break into Netflix’s Top 10 most watched English-speaking premieres ever next week. And barring any last minute shifts, Stranger Things 4 will be crowned the biggest show of 2022 by almost any metric—views, demand, social media engagement, etcetera.
In fact, 50 percent of all of Netflix’s Top 10 English-speaking debuts premiered in 2022, including Ozark’s fourth season and Bridgerton’s second season. It’s an impressive feat, and yet it’s entirely discordant with the fact that Netflix also had arguably its worst year on record. The company lost subscribers in its second and third quarters, and gained only 100,000 subs in the U.S. and Canada in its most recent quarter. And, despite a recent rebound, its stock is still down some 50 percent from a year ago. Netflix is projecting subscriber growth of 4.5 million in Q4, about half the number that joined in Q4 2021. Revenue has slowed alongside subscriber growth, and churn rates are still higher than normal at the company.
If TV is a business of hits—and, despite the claims of some analysts, it very much still is—then why is Netflix facing struggles when the hits have been rolling in? The answer is complex, and a harbinger for the rest of the industry.