That likely spells lower investor expectations ahead of the streaming giant's Q3 report, which arrives after the bell on Wednesday.
On average, analysts polled by FactSet expect Netflix to report Q3 revenue of $5.25 billion (up 35% annually) and GAAP EPS of $1.03. However, Netflix's subscriber numbers tend to have a bigger impact on how its stock moves post-earnings.
Netflix guided in its Q2 report for 7 million Q3 paid streaming subscriber adds -- 6.2 million in international markets, and 800,000 in the U.S.. For seasonally big Q4, the consensus is for 8.04 million international and 1.44 million U.S. paid streaming adds.
TheStreet will be live-blogging Netflix's earnings report (shareholder letter) on Wednesday, along with a "video interview" that will be posted at 6 P.M. Eastern Time. Please visit our home page at the close to see the live blog.
In addition to Netflix's subscriber add figures, here are some other things worth keeping an eye on.
1. ARPU Growth
With the help of its early-2019 price hikes, Netflix's average revenue per user (ARPU) rose 3% annually in dollars and 9% in constant currency in Q2. U.S. ARPU rose 12%, while international ARPU rose 7% in CC.
Though forex was probably a headwind again in Q3, chances are that ARPU rose once again.
2. Content Spending
Netflix's cash content spending totaled $13 billion in 2018. Over the first half of 2019, spending "only" totaled $6.3 billion, but it's expected to be stronger during the back half of the year and ultimately be up on a full-year basis.
3. Comments About the Competitive Environment
It goes without saying that worries about an intensifying competition have weighed on Netflix's shares in recent months, as Disney (DIS) - Get Report and Apple (AAPL) - Get Report each get set to launch streaming services in November. In September, CEO Reed Hastings raised eyebrows by stating that Netflix will be facing a "a whole new world" in terms of its competitive environment starting in November, albeit while reiterating his firm's commitment to its existing content strategy.
Look for Netflix, whose scale, user data, R&D investments and broad-based approach to spending on content remain competitive strengths, to offer some comments on how much of an impact it expects this competitive environment to have on its Q4 subscriber growth. And as Netflix ramps up its investments in children's content (in part to help offset the pending loss of Disney material), management could offer some thoughts on how Netflix's content investments position the company to deal with competition going forward.
4. Free Cash Flow Guidance
In July, Netflix reiterated guidance for its 2019 free cash flow (FCF) to be around negative $3.5 billion, while also reiterating that it expects FCF to improve in 2020 and subsequent years. If there's any change to this outlook, it's likely to be provided in the Q3 shareholder letter.
5. Marketing and R&D Spend
Due to the push-out of some spending to the back half of 2019, Netflix's marketing spend only rose 2% annually in Q2 to $603.2 million. Growth was almost certainly stronger in Q3, as Netflix continues investing heavily in promoting its originals.
Netflix has also been investing heavily in R&D. The company's "technology & development" spend rose 28% in Q2 to $383.2 million.
6. Viewing Stats for Originals
In recent quarters, Netflix has been sharing select viewership numbers for recently-launched original shows and movies, and has also signaled it wants to become more transparent in general about viewing activity with content creators and consumers
Look for the Q3 shareholder letter to feature some numbers about major domestic and international originals that rolled out last quarter, such as Season 3 of Stranger Things, Dave Chappelle's Sticks and Stones, Season 3 of La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) and Season 7 of Orange is the New Black.