Netflix is reporting a lower-than-expected number of new member sign-ups in the third quarter, not long after controversy erupted over the streaming platform’s debut of the French film “Cuties.”
A social media trend encouraging people to cancel their Netflix subscriptions broke out earlier this year, following the release of the movie, which centers on a group of prepubescent girls joining a dance troupe where they participate in sexually suggestive routines while wearing very revealing outfits. The movement resulted in a spike in Netflix cancellations.
According to a CNBC report, the company gained a net 2.20 million new worldwide subscribers compared to the 3.57 million investors were forecasting. During the same quarter in 2019, Netflix added 6.8 million new customers. In the U.S., the platform added only 177,000 new subscribers in Q3.
It’s worth noting, of course, the ongoing pandemic and its impact on potential subscribers’ employment situations has certainly impacted Netflix’s growth.
“Cuties” sparked intense furor, particularly among Christians and conservatives, many of whom voiced their disapproval for the sexually explicit film by cancelling their subscriptions to the entertainment service. Several lawmakers — including Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — called the movie “child porn” and demanded an investigation into Netflix.
In early October, a Texas grand jury indicted Netflix for “promotion of lewd visual material” depicting underage children.
USA Today TV editor Gary Levin said the backlash could have impacted Netflix’s Q3 numbers.
“It’s impossible to attribute the lower numbers directly to the ‘Cuties’-inspired boycott drive,” he wrote. “But at least two analytics firms said last month their data showed Netflix was suffering higher ‘churn’ rates, which measure subscription cancellations, in the immediate aftermath of a #CancelNetflix movement that began online.”
For its part, Netflix continues standing by the film.