Talk about Green Light, Green Light. Netflix on Tuesday reported it had reached 213.53 million global paid subscribers in the third quarter of 2021.
The streaming giant added nearly 4.4 million subscribers during the quarter, which was above their forecast of 3.5 million new memberships.
Overall, the company forecast it would hit 212.68 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2021, which would have represented year over year grown of 9%. Netflix closed the second quarter with 209.18 million global streaming paid memberships, or 8.4% growth year over year growth.
The smash hit of Netflix’s third quarter, no doubt, was “Squid Game.” But the Korean series only debuted in mid-September with about two weeks left in the quarter, and it took that time to become a word-of-mouth breakout. Expect to see a heavy portion of the “Squid Game” effect in Q4 numbers. Netflix has already announced that “Squid Game” viewership destroyed the impressive performance of its previous hottest-out-the-game original series, last winter’s Shonda Rhimes drama “Bridgerton.”
On Tuesday, Netflix said that 142 million accounts have watched “Squid Game” within the first four weeks of its Sept. 17 premiere, which would be nearly double that of “Bridgerton” (82 million). However, that 142 million only counted those who watched at least two minutes of the show.
Netflix promised to update how it reports viewership (which is still carefully curated and self-reported by the streaming service). “Later in the year, we will shift to reporting on hours viewed for our titles rather than the number of accounts that choose to watch them,” the company said in its quarterly letter to investors.
Netflix is surely banking on “Squid Game” to bring in new subscribers: The streaming service is forecasting to top 222 million subscribers when it reports its fourth quarter earnings early next year, which would be an addition of 8.5 million subs.
The company is also weathering the controversy from Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” standup, which was harshly criticized for the comedian’s transphobic jokes. Co-CEO Ted Sarandoes has staunchly defended Chappelle’s “artistic freedom” and the company’s trans employees are set to stage a (virtual) walkout on Wednesday in protest of the special.