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Netflix and Microsoft to team up on low-cost streaming service plan

No prices have been announced yet, but officials hope to bring back some of its lost customers

It didn’t take long after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hinted that low-end, ad-supported plans might be on their way for the streaming platform to make a move.

On Wednesday, Netflix announced that it is partnering with Microsoft on a “lower priced,” ad-supported plan for consumers that will be offered in addition to its three tiers of ad-free plans. Microsoft’s role in the partnership will be to manage sales, advertising technology, and privacy protection.

“It’s very early d...

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    Netflix will spend millions to create more original content in 2021

    The company wants to cater to a wider audience as competition heats up

    TV and movie lovers who have feasted on Netflix Originals like “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “Ozark,” and “The Queen’s Gambit” are about to get a lot more attention from the reigning streaming video king. 

    According to a research report from Bankr, the service will spend about $19.03 billion in 2021 to produce exclusive video content, nearly 10 times what it churned out just five years ago when it first tested the original content waters with “House of Cards.”

    Here we come, 2021!

    COVID-19 didn’t hamper the company much, if at all. “Since the almost-global shutdown of production back in mid-March, we have already completed principal photography on 50+ productions and, while the course and impact of C-19 remains unpredictable, we’re optimistic we will complete shooting on over 150 other productions by year-end,” the company wrote in its Q3 2020 letter to shareholders.

    To demonstrate its aggressive stance, the company said that it expects the number of Netflix originals launched to be up year-over-year in each quarter of 2021. A key target for that content will be an emphasis on Netflix’ burgeoning growth in the Hispanic and Asian markets. 

    While the company said that it strives “to be a global entertainment service that can satisfy the needs of members all over the world,” it’s not leaving the English-speaking world empty-handed. Season 3 of Cobra Kai will debut on January 8, 2021. There’s also season four of ‘Stranger Things,’ the action film ‘Red Notice’ (starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds), and season two of ‘The Witcher’ for fans to look forward to.

    Go big or go home

    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then Netflix is no different than a traditional TV network like NBC, CBS, or ABC when it comes to competing for eyeballs. In addition to its 195 million user base, Netflix subscribers are rather smitten with the service, with 59 percent of young users rating it as their most indispensable TV network.

    To push that number higher, the company has to go big or go home -- and it’s going big in 2021.

    In reality, Netflix has little choice. In the last year, consumers have been wooed by the debut of Comcast’s Peacock and Disney+. Disney, in particular, has shown just how serious it is about being a big time player in the streaming game by adding in features like co-watching, bundles, and partnerships with the likes of Verizon, which gives the wireless network’s customers a chance to score a free year of Disney+.

    “Overall, Netflix needs a lot of video content to remain competitive. However, the shows need to retain subscribers especially those onboarded during the pandemic,” commented Bankr’s Door Justinas Baltrusaitis. “If the subscriber growth slows down, Netflix might need to look for other ways to attract more users.”

    TV and movie lovers who have feasted on Netflix Originals like “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “Ozark,” and “The Queen’s Gambit” are about to get a lot mor...
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    Netflix discontinues free trials for new U.S. subscribers

    The streaming service will be trying other promotion strategies

    Netflix has confirmed that it will stop offering free trials to U.S. customers. Instead of touting a free 30-day trial, the streaming giant has changed its sign-up page to emphasize that it lets subscribers cancel anytime at no cost. 

    “We’re looking at different marketing promotions in the U.S. to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience,” a Netflix spokesperson said Tuesday. 

    Those promotions include content sampling for consumers in the U.S. For example, Netflix recently made one of its films (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”) available to watch without a Netflix subscription. It has also posted some educational content on YouTube for free. The platform says content sampling promotions like these are expected to continue into 2021. 

    The Verge noted that Netflix has spent the last couple of years gradually pulling the free trial option in other countries. Meanwhile, newer streaming platforms like Apple TV and Disney Plus have extended their free trial periods in order to grow their customer base.  

    Netflix currently has more than 192 million subscribers. 

    Netflix has confirmed that it will stop offering free trials to U.S. customers. Instead of touting a free 30-day trial, the streaming giant has changed its...
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    Netflix announces multi-million cash commitment to help Black communities

    The company says it wants to help address systemic racism

    Netflix has announced that it will put 2 percent of its cash holdings towards supporting the economic development of black communities. The company said its initial commitment will be as much as $100 million.

    In a blog post on Tuesday, the video-streaming giant said the money will go toward narrowing the financial divide between Black and White families created and perpetuated under the nation’s long history of systemic racism.

    “Banks that are Black-owned or led represent a mere one percent of America’s commercial banking assets. This is one factor contributing to 19 percent of Black families having either negative wealth or no assets at all,” wrote Aaron Mitchell, a Netflix director of talent acquisition, and Shannon Alwyn, Netflix’s treasury director. 

    To start, Netflix will move $25 million to the Black Economic Development Initiative, a fund recently set up by a non-profit called the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The non-profit will invest the fund in financial institutions serving Black communities. Another $10 million will be deposited at Hope Credit Union, which focuses on obtaining funding outside of the underserved regions it serves. 

    “Over the next two years, HOPE estimates the Netflix deposit will support financing to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, homebuyers, and consumers of color,” the company said.

    Supporting Black communities

    Mitchell and Alwyn noted in their blog post that 19 percent of Black families have “either negative wealth or no assets at all,” while just 9 percent of White households fall under that category. 

    “Black banks have existed to fight this for generations, spurring economic growth by extending credit in often underbanked communities,” the company wrote. “But they’re disadvantaged in their access to capital, especially from large multinational companies, when compared to other banks.”

    Earlier this month, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin pledged $120 million to Black colleges in response to the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.

    “Both of us had the privilege of a great education, and we want to help more students — in particular students of color — get the same start in life,” Hastings and Quillin said in a joint statement.

    Netflix has announced that it will put 2 percent of its cash holdings towards supporting the economic development of black communities. The company said it...
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