Netflix's deals with companies like Comcast and T-Mobile are a secret weapon for its next phase of growth
- Netflix has been striking deals with wireless providers and legacy cable companies to make its services available through their platforms for years.
- A new Barclays analysis looks at the effect of these deals have had on Netflix’s subscriber base.
- The deals could have helped grow Netflix’s subscriber base by about 6.4 million over the past two years, including keeping people from canceling.
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Netflix may be benefiting from being in the bundle.
The streaming-video service could owe roughly one in five of its new US subscribers over the last two years to the deals it’s made with legacy cable and wireless companies like Comcast and T-Mobile, a new report from Barclays estimates.
With subscriber growth slowing in the US — Netflix’s biggest single market — the streaming-video giant has struck deals with distributors like cable company Comcast and wireless provider T-Mobile to reach people who might not have subscribed to its service directly.
Comcast customers canbuy Netflix through the cable company as well as access Netflix’s service through Comcast’s X1 set-top box. T-Mobile givesfree Netflix subscriptions to customers with certain wireless plans.
Those kinds of deals have helped Netflix grow its subscriber base, Barclays wrote in a May 16 research note. Barclays estimated that deals with legacy TV, internet, and wireless providers could have made up about 22% of Netflix’s net subscriber additions in the US and 9% internationally over the past two years.
Netflix had about 60 million paid memberships in the US as of March 31, about 11 million more than it had two years earlier, according to company filings. The company’s international subscriber base grew around 97% to nearly 89 million during the same period.
The analysis suggests that Netflix’s partnerships with wireless, broadband, and TV providers will be important for the company as it tries to expand beyond the core audience for streaming-video services around the world. Netflix has been particularly aggressive in pursuing partnerships with wireless providers like T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone India, and Telefónica, as it expands in places like India and Brazil, where wireless access is more prevalent than broadband service, Barclays said.
Yet the classic-TV bundle is also changing in the US, where Netflix is integrated into cable boxes from companies like Charter and Comcast. Rival companies like Amazon, Apple, and Hulu have begun selling and bundling subscription-video services from companies like HBO and Showtime. But Netflix has so farresisted being included in those offerings.
Barclays analyzed partnerships between Netflix and 18 distributors around the world, such as Comcast, Sky, T-Mobile, Telefónica, and Virgin Media, since 2017. Those distributors helped Netflix add about 6.4 million net subscribers during that time, the report said.
The estimates are rough, Barclays wrote. Netflix hasn’t disclosed how many subscribers its partnerships have added, and neither Netflix nor cable companies report “churn” (how many people cancelled the service). The deals between Netflix and its distributors tend to be very nuanced. And some people who signed up for Netflix through distributors may have subscribed to Netflix on their own had these partnerships not existed.
Still, the subscriber bump Netflix seems to be receiving from other distributors is worth measuring. The company’s stock istied to subscriber growth. Investors use subscriber additions as a barometer for future revenue.
The biggest benefit of Netflix relationships with distributors may just be in keeping subscribers around. About 3.1 million of the 6.4 million subscriber boost since 2017 came from fewer cancellations, the note said.
“The bigger goal of these partnerships longer term is likely to be to reduce churn, given that wireless and cable churn are likely much lower than Netflix churn, especially outside the US,” Barclays said.
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