It’s been a tale of two Netflixes over the last few weeks, as a long-anticipated Dave Chappelle special drew sharp condemnations from staffers and critics alike and as the South Korean sleeper hit “Squid Game” became a global sensation, making it the streamer’s most-watched series to date. (Both detail a grim view of the world.)
Neither contributed much to the company’s results in the third quarter, which ran through Sept. 30 (“Squid Game” debuted in the last week of September and Chappelle’s special became available in October), but Netflix gained 4.4 million new subscribers in the period, beating its own estimate of 3.5 million. Netflix now has 222 million customers, about 67 million of them in the United States. The company booked $7.5 billion in revenue and $1.4 billion in profit, slightly better than expectations.
Both shows do matter to the company’s current quarter, for which Netflix anticipates adding 8.5 million new customers, one of the biggest quarterly forecasts in the company’s history. Netflix also said it expected to generate $365 million in profit on $7.7 billion in sales. In other words, as far as Wall Street is concerned, what controversy?
Mr. Chappelle’s show became a rare public relations nightmare for Netflix as critics saw it as a hostile invective toward the transgender community rather than the boundary-pushing stand-up routine that Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-chief executive, defended it as. Employees have threatened to walk out in protest on Wednesday, and some in the creative community have called out Mr. Sarandos.
Jaclyn Moore, the head producer for the Netflix series “Dear White People,” said she would no longer work for the company if “they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
Then there’s “Squid Game.” The dystopian series pits indebted citizens against each other in a set of children’s games where losers die and the winner walks away with millions in cash. The show has stormed the globe and has become one of Netflix’s most valuable new franchises, inspiring memes and costumes just in time for Halloween.
“A mind-boggling” 142 million accounts watched at least the first two minutes of the show in its first month, making it the No. 1 program in 94 countries, including the United States, the company said. “The breadth of ‘Squid Game’s’ popularity is truly amazing.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.