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Squid Game Craze Lifts Netflix Quarter With Over 4 Million New Subscribers

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Squid Game Craze Lifts Netflix Quarter With Over 4 Million New Subscribers

Netflix’s global sensation Squid Game helped lure more new customers than expected, the world’s largest streaming service said on Tuesday as it predicted a packed lineup would further boost signups through the end of the year.

After a sharp slowdown in the first half of 2021, Netflix added 4.38 million subscribers from July through September to reach 213.6 million worldwide. Wall Street analysts had projected 3.86 million additions, according to Refinitiv data.

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Netflix enjoyed a subscriber boom last year as COVID-19 kept audiences at home, but growth stalled early this year. At the same time, Walt Disney’s Disney+, AT&T’s HBO Max, and other competitors bolstered their offerings. Netflix blamed the earlier weakness in part on a thin slate of new programming caused by production shutdowns from the pandemic.

Then, 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 “mind-boggling” 142 million households had watched the dark drama about people who compete in a deadly competition to erase financial debt.

The series, made with a relatively small budget, shot to the top of Netflix viewing charts in 94 countries, kick-started sales of track suits and Vans sneakers, and kindled interest in learning Korean, Squid Game merchandise is now on its way to retailers, Netflix said.

The fervour around Squid Game also is expected to lift the current quarter. Netflix projected it will pick up 8.5 million new customers by year’s end, ahead of industry forecasts of 8.33 million, as it releases a heavy lineup of new programming. Upcoming debuts include big-budget action flick Red Notice and a second season of fantasy drama The Witcher.

It also expects a more normalised programming slate in 2022 spread throughout the year, “assuming no new COVID waves or unforeseen events,” the company said in a quarterly letter to shareholders.

Shares of Netflix were close to even in after-hours trading at $641 (roughly Rs. 48,130) following the earnings report.

Overseas growth

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Most new customer pickups in the quarter came from the Asia Pacific market, where Netflix now has 30 million subscribers. Industry experts believe the region may rival the United States and Canada – Netflix’s largest market – in three to five years, said Third Bridge senior analyst Joe McCormack.

Netflix is trying new ways to attract customers overseas, including offering a free plan in Kenya. It will take one to two years to tell if that tactic leads to more paying subscribers, the company said.

For the quarter that ended in September, diluted earnings-per-share came in at $3.19 (roughly Rs. 240), beating analyst expectations of $2.57 (roughly Rs. 190). Revenue rose 16 percent to $7.5 billion (roughly Rs. 56,325 crores).

Before the earnings report, Netflix shares had risen roughly 22 percent this year and were trading near record highs, but their gains lag behind the 54 percent increase in the Nasdaq.

Netflix, which keeps much of its viewership data secret, also said it will release information more frequently and shift its main publicly reported metric to hours viewed, rather than the number of accounts that watched a title for at least 2 minutes. The company noted that it competes with a large set of activities beyond TV including TikTok and Fortnite. When Facebook suffered a global outage in early October, “our engagement saw a 14 percent increase during this time period,” Netflix said.

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Executives did not address worker complaints about a Dave Chappelle comedy special, which the company has previously defended. Some employees say Chappelle made comments that harmful to transgender people, and they plan a walkout on Wednesday.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth joins Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast for an exclusive wide-ranging interview, as he talks about the 5G push, Make in India, Realme GT series and Book Slim, and how stores can improve their standing. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Crosses $800 Million Milestone

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has grossed $803 million (Rs. 6,235 crore) at the worldwide box office, since its release in theatres on May 6, to emerge as the second-highest-grossing Hollywood movie of the pandemic era. The top spot, as we all know, is occupied by the Tom Holland-led superhero film Spider-Man: No Way Home, which raked in $1.89 billion (Rs. 1,46,766 crore) during its theatrical run. That said, the Doctor Strange sequel has outperformed films such as action thriller F9: The Fast Saga ($726 million), the James Bond thriller No Time To Die($774.2 million), and The Robert Pattinson-led DC film The Batman(($768.5 million).

Of the $803 million so far, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has collected $342.1 million (Rs. 2,655 crore) in the US and Canada. The remaining $461.1 million (Rs. 3,578 crore) came from nearly 49 markets elsewhere, with South Korea ($45.9 million), the UK ($43.8 million), Mexico ($35.7 million), and Brazil ($29.2 million) being the major contributors. The film, needless to say, hasn’t been released in China and Russia.

Doctor Strange 2 Review: The Multiverse of Madness is Too Much and Too Little

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In India, the second Doctor Strange movie has collected nearly Rs.122 crore so far, overshadowing the Ranveer Singh-led Hindi-language comedy-drama Jayeshbhai Jordaar. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might have benefited from the fact that it was released in India nearly a month and a half after SS Rajamouli’s Telugu-language period action drama RRR, and nearly three weeks after the Kannada-language actioner K.G.F: Chapter 2.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remained in top position worldwide during the May 20 to May 22 weekend, collecting nearly $32 million (Rs.2,484) in the domestic market alone over its third weekend. It faced limited competition from the historical drama Downton Abbey: A New Era as the film collected $16 million (Rs.1,241 crore) to secure the second spot on box office charts in the US. This, however, is not surprising as the title, a sequel to the 2019 feature film adaptation of the period TV show Downton Abbey, caters primarily to older adults.

The second Doctor Strange movie is, however, not the only film to make headlines this week as the action-packed adventure movie Uncharted — also starring Holland — crossed the $400 million (Rs. 31.03 crore) mark worldwide while the animated adventure feature Sonic the Hedgehog 2 crossed $375 million (Rs.29.09 crore). While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness still has enough gas in the tank to put up good numbers in the days to come, it will face competition from the Tom Cruise-fronted action movie Top Gun: Maverick when it releases May 27 in theatres globally.

Directed by Sam Raimi, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness explores the concept of a multiverse, which was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the Tom Hiddleston-led series Loki and examined further in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Headlined by Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Xochitl Gomez, and Benedict Wong in key roles.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is playing in cinemas globally.


Gaana CEO and Spotify’s India chief join us on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, to discuss India’s unique music streaming landscape. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Netflix to Settle Tax Dispute With Italy for $59.1 Million, Opens First Office in Rome Hiring Over 40 Employees

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US streaming service Netflix has agreed to settle a tax dispute with Italy, the company and legal sources said on Friday.

Milan prosecutors issued a statement saying they had settled with a multinational video on-demand streaming company for a period covering Oct. 2015 to 2019 and asked it to pay EUR 55.8 million (roughly Rs. 460 crore).

They gave the settlement figure without specifically naming the company involved but three sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed it was Netflix.

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A Netflix spokesperson said the company was pleased to have the matter finalised.

“We have maintained constant dialogue and cooperation with the Italian authorities and continue to believe that we have acted in full compliance with Italian and international rules,” the spokesperson said.

Prosecutors had opened an investigation into potential tax evasion three years ago.

They claimed Netflix should have paid taxes in Italy because it relied on digital infrastructure to stream content to 2 million users in the country.

As a backdrop to the payment agreement, Netflix has now opened an office in Italy, setting up a base in Rome and hiring more than 40 employees.

The investigation by Milan prosecutors who argued that cables and computer servers used by Netflix amounted to a physical presence in Italy, had been triggered by checks conducted by Italy’s tax police.

Milan prosecutors in the past have probed other US tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Facebook for dodging taxes, allowing Italy to net several billion euros in fines and tax payments.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


Should you pick Vivo over Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 Pro? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Stranger Things Season 4 Spoilers Leaked Due to Tie-in Monopoly Game: Report

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Stranger Things season 4 is in the limelight for an unexpected reason as leaked images of cards from a tie-in Monopoly board game have spoiled key plot elements ahead of its May 27 debut on Netflix, as per a report. The Monopoly Stranger Things game can be “purchased fair and square” at a “national retailer”, according to a Reddit thread dedicated to the leak. While this is not confirmed, the fact remains that several retailers are advertising merchandise based on previous Stranger Things seasons to capitalise on the brand’s popularity.

According to The Hollywood Reporter report — which quotes a source close to the series — the Monopoly Stranger Things 4 board game was accidentally given the go-ahead mainly because of the “sheer scale and breadth of the Stranger Things franchising world.”

Stranger Things creators the Duffer brothers and Netflix are, not surprisingly, unhappy about the leak. In fact, the Duffer brothers are said to have had a “total meltdown” after the debacle, as they wanted to keep Stranger Things 4 plot details under wraps till the show’s premiere. They were, reportedly, also not consulted while developing the game.

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Interestingly, Stranger Things season 4 is not the first title to be spoiled by tie-in merchandise. The Star Wars franchise faced a similar situation when the release of a Rey action figure with a lightsaber revealed a key plot detail from the 2015 space epic Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Such events are the reason that The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau didn’t allow manufacturers to design a toy for the character of Baby Yoda — or Grogu, as you prefer — till after the series’ premiere.

Netflix could have adopted a similar approach for Stranger Things — and it might still do so for the fifth and final season — but admittedly, it does hurt sales and allows third-parties to profit, as was the case with The Mandalorian for several months.

Stranger Things season 4 is touted to be “bigger and better” than previous instalments. In fact, director Shawn Levy recently revealed that it features some episodes that are longer than his two Ryan Reynolds movies, the comedy Free Guy and the sci-fi adventure The Adam Project. The Duffer Brothers had hinted at as much earlier, noting the Stranger Things 4 episodes are “very, very long.”

The first five episodes of Stranger Things season 4 will out on May 27 on Netflix, three years after the last season aired, with the remaining four arriving on July 1.


Gaana CEO and Spotify’s India chief join us on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, to discuss India’s unique music streaming landscape. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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