It has been an interesting time in the subscription world. I will start with an item that’s not Netflix related to maximise the chance of you seeing it.
And that is the news that Wattpad continues to expand its offering to creatives. Wattpad Webtoon Book Group is the imprint that selects and publishes the most popular comics and graphic novels from the immensely popular serial self-publishing platform. The deal means that PRH will distribute all titles published by Wattpad Webtoon Book Group. Wattpad Webtoon the wider platform, meanwhile, has signed further deals with Spain’s Zeta Studios, and with Screen Queensland to support more of the most promising title’s from the site onto the screen.
Which brings us to Netflix.
Specifically, it brings me to the reaction to the announcement of Netflix’s latest figures on subscriber numbers.
The BBC leads with the basic headline that in the last quarter of 2023 Netflix added 13.1 million subscribers, its healthiest numbers since 2020. Their take is summed up in their actual headline. They believe the growth in subscriber numbers is being driven by the crackdown on password sharing. The theory is that people who were previously tailgating someone else’s account are now setting up their own. This, of course, would mean that the growth is in some ways artificial, and not reflective of new demand.
Mark Williams highlights an interesting piece from Boktugg’s Sölve Dahlgren. And he heads that piece by noting the substantial increase in subscribers to Netflix’s lower cost ad-supported package. The newly introduced option now has 23 million subscribers, and accounts for 30% of new subscribers where it is available.
Of course, it may be that people who were sharing passwords are choosing the cheaper option. But Dahlgren thinks that what we are seeing is a growing acceptance of ad-supported streaming services. And, of course, the next intellectual step he takes is to wonder whether this would transfer to digital reading.
Finally it’s great to tell you about a competition whose organisers state up front, “Self-published writers are welcomed to submit.” The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, which have run since 2001, celebrate black writers in the US and globally. Entries close on the 31st January so do get applying!