As much hype has attended the addition of original programming to Netflix this year, the company has always been careful to manage expectations as to how shows like “House of Cards” and “Hemlock Grove” could impact a crucial metric: net subscriber additions.
But “Arrested Development,” which will launch its fourth season on the service in just nine days, is a bit different.
In an appearance Wednesday at a J.P. Morgan investor conference in Boston, Netflix CFO David Wells characterized the series as a “wild card” considering its loyal fan base may bring enough viewers to keep the company from seeing a year-over-year decrease in the number of new subscribers that sign up for the service in the second quarter of the year.
“There’s an acknowledgement on our part that it might have an impact on Q2,” said Wells of “Arrested.” “We’d otherwise feel we’d have lower year-over-year net additions for Q2 based on a seasonal pattern.”
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In contrast, CEO Reed Hastings downplayed the effect “House of Cards” was going to have on Netflix’s subscriber base in the first quarter in an earnings call last month, dismissing the potential for any “overnight impact.”
Netflix reported 29.2 million U.S. subscribers in the first quarter, adding 2 million subs. In Q2 of last year, Netflix added about 1 million new subs worldwide, with 530,000 of them coming in the U.S.
That said, Netflix guidance for q2 subscriber adds in the U.S. is actually 550,000, reflecting confidence in both “Arrested” and the maturation of the service’s offerings.
But Wells also said that it’s only when there’s more original content on the service in aggregate that Netflix will see a more significant infleunce. “it will take multiple titles for there to be a real impact on our net additions,” said Wells.