Netflix subscriptions cratered during September amid the backlash the streaming company faced for releasing “Cuties,” a 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, with Antenna claiming that Netflix lost five times as many subscribers in the opening weeks of September than during the entire month of August, according to the New York Post.
YipitData said that September cancellations were eight times that of those in August, a statistic they deemed “a multi-year high.”
Netflix’s earnings and net subscriber additions fell short of analyst estimates last quarter, according to CNBC. 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. And just to give you an example, if the quarter was 48 hours longer, we would have come in slightly above our guidance forecast.”
“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.
“Cuties,” which Netflix has defended as “social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” drew outrage from viewers and even lawmakers on Capitol Hill, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who urged the Department of Justice to get involved. Last month, 34 GOP legislators signed a letter urging Attorney General William Barr to prosecute Netflix for distributing child pornography.
Earlier this month, a Texas grand jury indicted Netflix for alleged “lewd visual material.”
Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-TX) tweeted out an image of the indictment, which claimed the streaming giant did “knowingly promote visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value[.]”
The indictment comes weeks after several members of Congress called on Netflix to be investigated for the controversial movie.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who was one of the members of Congress leading the charge to hold Netflix accountable for “Cuties” by penning a letter that was also signed by 33 of his colleagues, praised the indictment, telling The Daily Wire, “This is great news and I’d guess the 33 Republicans who joined my letter agree. ‘Cuties’ is child porn and unlike certain media apologists, I and the vast majority of Americans are disgusted by that, which is why a grand jury indicted Netflix. I’d still like to see the DOJ get involved. Netflix broke federal law.”
Related: 9 Other Times Netflix Offended Viewers With Its Content