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Netflix Numbers Lower Than Expected as Lockdown Boost Fades

Shares in Netflix have fallen by 11% after subscription sign-ups failed to live up to expectations after a record 2020 for the streaming giant.

Only four million new customers have joined Netflix since the turn of the year, a considerable drop from the 15.8 million net additions during the same period a year ago when the service was massively boosted by consumers staying at home due to the pandemic.

Netflix cited the ‘big Covid-19 pull forward’ it enjoyed throughout 2020 as well as production delays caused by the outbreak, resulting in less content being offered, for their worse-than-expected financial results.

Netflix had predicted a subscriber growth of six million for the January through March period.

Following the latest results, the streaming service is now projecting net additions of just one million for the second quarter of 2021, a long way from the successes of last year when subscriber numbers jumped by over 10 million in the April through June period and by a record 37 million for the calendar year in total.

The latest quarterly growth took Netflix’s total subscriber base to 208 million.

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Netflix said: “We continue to anticipate a strong second half with the return of new seasons of some of our biggest hits and an exciting film line-up.

“In the short term, there is some uncertainty from COVID-19; in the long term, the rise of streaming to replace linear TV around the world is the clear trend in entertainment.”

The last 12 months have seen Netflix face increasing competition from new and old streaming services that have been established by traditional broadcasting companies. Disney+, for example, passed 100 million subscribers in March after just over 12 months of operation.

However, Netflix officials said they did not believe ‘competitive intensity’ was a factor in the below-par figures.

The company reported revenues of $7.16bn for the first quarter, up 24% on the same period a year ago, while profits more than doubled from $709m to $1.71bn.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, said the share price reaction represented a ‘shocker’ for investors.

She added: “Low production costs helped but didn’t compensate for the slow revenue stream due to less production as well.

“It appears that Netflix started feeling the pinch of the end of the lockdown measures and the company could be reaching its potential for now.”

In other entertainment news, Bay City Roller singer Les McKeown has died at the age of 65, his family has said.

In a statement posted to Twitter, they wrote: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown.

“Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday April 20 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of this profound loss. Thank you.”

The cause of death has not been revealed.

The band’s official account also posted on Twitter, saying they were ‘saddened’ by the news and would send their prayers to the McKeown family.

Fans paid tribute to the singer on social media, with one writing: “I feel so sad. Les was part of my childhood.

“His posters were all over my wall and I begged my dad for a Bay City Rollers scarf. I learned the words of every song and sang them more times than I could count.”

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Another posted: “I loved the Bay City Rollers. Had all the gear short trousers, tartan down the sides, tartan scarves, posters on my bedroom wall.”

Boxing legend Frank Bruno commented: “He was part of the music scene when I was growing up & I remember tartan clad girls all screaming, it was a hysteria era music wise, with The Osmond’s David Cassidy & Bay City Rollers, seems like yesterday.”

Beginning at the end of the 1960s, the Bay City Rollers enjoyed huge success at home in Scotland and received acclaim worldwide with their distinctive tartan outfits and well-known songs such as Bye Bye Baby and Shang-a-Lang.

The band had a massive teen following and at one point were hailed as the ‘biggest band since the Beatles’.

After McKeown joined the group in 1973, the group hit the mainstream the following year, having previously only had a series of singles which had failed to make an impression on the charts.

With McKeown as frontman of the group, they went on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide, reaching number one in the US album charts with their self-titled 1975 effort. He left in 1978.

Alongside McKeown and bassist Alan Longmuir, the classic line-up also featured guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, with Longmuir’s younger brother Derek on drums.

McKeown, Longmuir and Wood reunited for a comeback tour in 2015, with McKeown touring solo under the name Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers up until last year.

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