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Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings steps down but subscribers jump

With money tight subscribers were expected to cut back on streaming services, or so the theory went.

But Netflix bucked that trend at the end of last year, adding more than seven million new subscribers, far more than analysts expected.

Harry and Meghan’s revelations were a big draw, as was new series Wednesday and the film Glass Onion.

Chief executive Reed Hastings welcomed the stronger numbers, but announced he was stepping down as chief executive.

His long-planned move means he is leaving the firm he founded in a crowded market, with challenges ahead but with 231 million viewers signed up around the globe.

Mr Hastings, who was an early pioneer in the streaming business and is seen as one of the original tech industry disruptors, will stay on as executive chairman.

The firm will now be run by Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters, both already in senior executive positions.

“Reed Hastings stepping down from his current role raises a lot of questions about Netflix’s future strategy,” said Jamie Lumley, analyst at research firm Third Bridge.

“Incoming Co-CEO Greg Peters will have a number of major decisions on his plate from managing high levels of expenses, password sharing, and cracking the code to find the next Stranger Things.”

They have been given a strong start, with total subscribers for the last three months of 2022 up 7.66 million, when analysts had predicted a rise of around 4.5 million.

In early 2022 Netflix faced an uphill battle. It was facing increased competition from rivals such as Amazon, HBO, Apple TV and Disney. It cut hundreds of jobs, but still found it had to put up prices to customers to cover rising costs.

That dealt a blow to its subscriber numbers in the first half of the year.

In November it introduced a cheaper ad-supported option in 12 countries, and signalled it would be less tolerant of password sharing in future.

Netflix shares, which had fallen by nearly 38% in the past year, rose in after hours trading following the results announcement. (BBC)

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