Netflix Inc’s global sensation “Squid Game” has helped entice more new customers than expected, with the world’s largest streaming service saying on Tuesday that it predicted a packed lineup could push signups by the end of the year.
After a sharp slowdown in the first half of 2021, Netflix added 4.38 million subscribers from July to September, reaching 213.6 million worldwide. Wall Street analysts had forecast an additional 3.86 million, according to Refinitiv data.
Netflix enjoyed a surge in subscribers last year as COVID-19 kept viewers at home, but growth stalled earlier this year. At the same time, The Walt Disney Company’s Disney+, AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max and other competitors solidified their offerings. Netflix attributed earlier weakness to a thin slate of new programming due to production shutdowns by the pandemic.
Then, the South Korean drama “Squid Game” debuted on September 17 and surprised executives by becoming the streaming service’s most-watched original series in its first month. On Tuesday, Netflix said a “brainful” 142 million homes had watched the black drama about people who compete in a deadly contest to wipe out financial debt.
The series, made with a relatively small budget, topped Netflix viewing charts in 94 countries, began selling tracksuits and Vans sneakers, and sparked interest in learning Korean here. “Squid Game” merchandise is now on its way to retailers, Netflix said.
Enthusiasm for the “squid game” is also expected to pick up in the current quarter. Netflix estimated it would pick up 8.5 million new subscribers by the end of the year, ahead of the industry forecast of 8.33 million, as it releases a massive lineup of new programming. Upcoming debuts include the big-budget action flick “Red Notice” and the second season of the fantasy drama “The Witcher.”