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Netflix lays off 300 workers after subscriber count dips

The Netflix app is displayed alongside other streaming media services on the homepage of a Roku Streaming Stick. (Photo: Matthew Keys / Flickr Creative Commons)

Netflix moved forward with a fresh round of layoffs on Thursday as the company attempts to recover from a sudden dip in paying subscribers.

Around 300 jobs were eliminated, with many positions based in the United States, according to a Netflix spokesperson. The pink slips impacted “many different teams” at the company, the spokesperson said.

“While we continue to invest significantly in the business, we made these adjustments so that our costs are growing in line with our slower revenue growth,” Bao Nguyne, the director of communications at Netflix, told the technology publication The Verge on Thursday.

The layoffs come after Netflix previously eliminated around 150 employee positions and let go of dozens of contractors last month. The streaming company is attempting to recover from a lackluster quarterly earnings report issued in May that revealed Netflix lost 200,000 more paying subscribers than it gained between December of last year and March of this year.

Netflix blamed the issue on around 100 million streamers who are freeloading off a paying user’s account. After years of company executives asserting that a trend of password sharing among family and friends was good for the company’s business, Netflix now says it will crack down on the practice.

But some analysts say Netflix’s decision to spend billions of dollars on content while raising fees on its 222 million paying subscribers has hurt the company’s ability to retain customers and lure new ones into the streaming service.

The service charges $15.50 per month for access to high-definition streams of the movies and TV series in its content library. Access to ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) video comes at a premium, with Netflix charging $20 a month for the perk. Others, like Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and Disney Plus, include UHD streaming in their base subscriptions, which are cheaper than Netflix’s UHD tier of service.

On Thursday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he regretted “not seeing our slowing revenue growth earlier, so we could have ensured a more-gradual adjustment of the business.”

“We know these two rounds of layoffs have been very hard for everyone, creating a lot of anxiety and uncertainty,” Hastings wrote in an e-mail to staff. “We plan to return to a more normal course of business going forward.”

It was not clear if Netflix was planning additional layoffs in the future.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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