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Netflix simply added 6m subscribers. Ought to Spotify copy its password crackdown?

MBW Explains is a sequence of analytical options wherein we discover the context behind main music business speaking factors – and counsel what may occur subsequent.


Netflix launched its Q2 2023 earnings on Wednesday (July 19), and whereas income got here in roughly as anticipated, its subscription numbers shocked far to the upside: The streaming service gained 5.9 million new subs within the quarter, blowing away analysts’ expectations of a 2.1 million worldwide improve.

That’s a major turnaround from a 12 months earlier, when the corporate’s worldwide subscriber base was down by round 1 million subscribers year-over-year.

The brand new subs had a optimistic influence on the corporate’s backside line, with working earnings coming in at USD $1.8 billion, effectively above the corporate’s $1.6 billion steerage for the quarter.

This success can largely be attributed to at least one factor: Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing. Starting with Latin American markets final 12 months, Netflix eradicated the power of a number of households to share Netflix accounts by detecting and requesting verification on accounts that had been being utilized by totally different IP addresses.

The crackdown then expanded to Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain in February of this 12 months, adopted by the US in Could.

Netflix gave password-sharers a little bit of an incentive to enroll in further accounts, by providing subscribers the choice to “add a house” to their account at a reduction worth of $7.99 per 30 days.

(Netflix additionally launched a inexpensive ad-supported service tier late final 12 months, however the firm says that’s had little influence on its income to this point.)

Within the wake of the earnings report, analysts have largely agreed that Netflix’s crackdown has been a hit, dispelling considerations that the transfer might result in a decline in subscribers.

Netlfix is now forecasting a achieve of round 6 million subscribers in Q3, and says it plans to develop the password crackdown to nearly all of its markets.


Netflix’s transfer comes amid persevering with considerations within the leisure business that password-sharing amongst streaming service subscribers is consuming into creators’ and rightsholders’ incomes.

A 2021 survey from Comparitech discovered that password-sharing is frequent amongst most streaming companies, together with the world’s largest music streamer, Spotify. The report discovered that 22.2% of Spotify subscribers had been giving or receiving entry to the service by way of a shared password.

To make sure, that’s significantly lower than is the case with Netflix, with 44.6% of subscribers gaining entry by way of shared passwords, based on the survey.

Nonetheless, given Spotify’s 210 million paid subscribers, this means that some 47 million Spotify customers aren’t paying for a subscription – a really giant potential viewers that the service might monetize if it had been to comply with Netflix’s lead.

The massive query is: What number of of those password-sharers might be transformed into paying Spotify subscribers?

In an interview with Yahoo! Information Thursday (July 20), Evercore ISI’s Head of Web Analysis, Mark Mahaney, stated he expects that a couple of third of the roughly 100 million password-sharers on Netflix worldwide will finally join an account.

If we had been to imagine the identical proportion for Spotify customers, that might indicate that Spotify might achieve round 14 million subscribers by way of a password-sharing crackdown.


Buyers and analysts shall be conserving an in depth eye on Netflix’s coming quarterly reviews to see whether or not the increase to subscribers from the crackdown will proceed.

There ought to definitely be a lot extra upside. In spite of everything, the password crackdown reached the US market in Could, mid-way by way of the second quarter, that means solely about six weeks’ price of recent sign-ups from password-sharers had been recorded in Netflix’s newest earnings report.

And the optimistic subscriber numbers out of Netflix this week will virtually definitely result in requires Spotify to do one thing comparable, particularly given the rising strain from the music business to boost its costs.

A rising variety of streaming companies have been mountaineering subscription charges not too long ago within the face of a number of years of elevated inflation and rising strain from music business insiders who argue music is undervalued and underpriced out there. Amongst them are Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and – most not too long ago – YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, which simply this week raised their costs for US subscribers.


The important thing motivation behind Netflix’s transfer to crack down on password sharing got here from the truth that its subscriber numbers had flatlined in 2022.

After rising steadily for greater than a decade, Netflix’s subscriber numbers peaked at 221.84 million worldwide in This fall 2021, earlier than declining barely within the two subsequent quarters, to 220.67 million.

Merely put, Netflix wanted some technique to get again to development, and the password crackdown, together with the launch of its ad-supported tier, was the way it addressed that want.

However a password crackdown is a one-time occasion. Although analysts count on to see elevated subscriber numbers from the crackdown for a number of extra quarters, finally the returns from this tactic will undergo from diminishing returns.

The identical would virtually definitely be true for Spotify – but Spotify is in a unique place in terms of subscriber development. Whereas Netflix is displaying indicators it might be near plateauing when it comes to its market attain, Spotify subscriptions proceed to develop strongly with every quarter. Its Q1 2023 earnings report confirmed a 15% improve in premium subscribers, a soar the likes of which Netflix hasn’t seen in years.

Not risking that robust development could also be what’s motivating Spotify’s Ek to carry off on worth will increase. By the identical token, Spotify might also delay any password-sharing crackdown till the day comes when its subscriber numbers are in want of a lift.

Spotify’s reluctance to boost costs is clearly inflicting frustration throughout the music business, however from the streaming firm’s perspective, its technique could also be a great one: Earlier than growing prices to subscribers, be sure you have as a lot of them as potential.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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