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Netflix Subscriptions Plummeted, Cancelations Soared After 'Cuties' Film Release

Streaming giant suffered amid backlash against controversial French film

 on 25th October 2020 @ 1.00pm
netflix was accused of pushing child porn over the film  cuties © press
Netflix was accused of pushing child porn over the film 'Cuties'

Netflix subscriptions plummeted and cancelations soared amid the backlash against the release of “Cuties,” a controversial French film that depicts pre-pubescent girls in sexually provocative situations.

The New York data analytics firms Antenna and YipitData reported a sizable decline in subscriptions in September.

Antenna claims that Netflix lost five times as many subscribers in the opening weeks of September than during the whole of August, according to the New York Post.

For September, YipitData said that cancellations were eight times that of those in August, a statistic they described as “a multi-year high.”

According to CNBC, Netflix’s earnings and net subscriber additions fell short of analyst estimates last quarter. 

Netflix Vice President of Investor Relations Spencer Wang urged shareholders not to put too much stock in the number of subscribers, saying, “We just really don’t over-focus on any 90-day period."

viewers appeared to have switched off from netflix after the release of  cuties © press
Viewers appeared to have switched off from Netflix after the release of 'Cuties'

"And just to give you an example, if the quarter was 48 hours longer, we would have come in slightly above our guidance forecast,” Wang added.

“The state of the pandemic and its impact continues to make projections very uncertain, but as the world hopefully recovers in 2021, we would expect that our growth will revert back to levels similar to pre-COVID,” the company wrote in a letter to shareholders.

"Churn" measures the number of subscribers who cancel pay services like Netflix for any reason, according to USA Today.

YipitData, also reported in mid-September that "churn in the U.S. rose materially this weekend as a result of the 'Cuties' backlash."

Antenna, a data analytics firm that tracks Netflix subscribers, reported a "meaningful spike in churn rate" shortly after the hashtag #CancelNetflix went viral.

Days after the hashtag went viral, YipitData reported that "disconnects were running at nearly 8x the daily levels observed in August and reached a multi-year high."

On Wednesday, Netflix sent a letter to its investors saying that it fell short of its subscriber goal last quarter, according to The Daily Mail.

In the three-month period which ended on September 30, 2.2 million global subscribers joined Netflix.

Of those, just 180,000 signed up for the service in the United States.

Those results were a sharp drop from the first two quarters of this year when Netflix added 16 million and 10 million subscribers respectively.

Netflix, which anticipated a drop in the number of subscribers during the third quarter, told investors that the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, as well as stronger competition from streaming services, would likely lead to a slowdown in growth. 

Cuties, directed by French-Senegalese Maïmouna Doucouré, tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old girl who chafes against her strict Muslim parents and finds solace with a dance troupe.

Inspired by music videos and social media, the girl group learns and practices provocative and sexualized choreography in preparation for a dance competition.

Doucouré says that the film, set in a poor suburb of Paris, is inspired by her own experiences, and is a social commentary on the need to protect children. 

But the film, which shows the young girls in provocative dance poses, has been accused of "hyper-sexualizing children."

The movie has sparked anger since its September 9 Netflix release, prompting calls for a boycott of Netflix.

The hashtag #CancelNetflix began trending on social media.

Netflix did not produce or develop Cuties. 

Instead, it bought the rights to distribute the film after it won critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, where it debuted in January. 

The company has faced legal consequences for streaming Cuties.

On September 23 a grand jury in Texas indicted Netflix, accusing the California-based firm of broadcasting lewd material in their state.

Netflix said Cuties "is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children" in a statement to NBC News.

"The charge is without merit and we stand by the film."

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been leading the campaign against the film.

Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, saying the film "sexualizes young girls, through dance scenes simulating sexual activities, including one scene exposing a minor's chest."

He explained on social media: "Following Netflix's disturbing promotion of 'Cuties,' I sent a letter calling on the DOJ to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography."

Cruz urged the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of the film, including anyone involved.

the french senegalese director of cuties  ma mouna doucouré  has defended her film © press
The French-Senegalese director of Cuties, Maïmouna Doucouré, has defended her film

House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, found rare common ground with Cruz, agreeing that the film was unacceptable and accusing Netflix of being complicit in encouraging pedophilia and child trafficking.

"Netflix child porn 'Cuties' will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade," Gabbard wrote. 

"1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children.

"It happened to my friend's 13 year old daughter.

"Netflix, you are now complicit. #CancelNetflix."

Despite Netflix's weaker-than-expected third quarter, it remains a behemoth in the world of streaming content. 

The company boasts 195 million subscribers worldwide, of which 73 million are in North America.

By year's end, Netflix expects to cross the 200 million subscriber threshold.

[RELATED] Netflix Adds Gender Fluid Character to Children's Cartoon 'She-Ra'

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