The late-night host pulled no punches as he blasted the US-based streaming company over its decision to include an ad-supported subscription plan after years of claiming Netflix would remain ad-free.
“You know, every year I say ‘f*** Netflix’. And this year it came true,” Kimmel said in his roast of the streamer, over a dip in subscribers and recent layoffs due to “slowing revenue growth”.
Netflix posted a drop in worldwide subscriber numbers for the first time in its decade-long history last month. The news was followed by a massive sell-off of its shares – causing its stock to fall by 23 per cent in after-market trading on 19 April.
“Netflix lost subscribers for the first time ever; things are really tough over there,” Kimmel addressed the gathering in New York, adding: “They have layoffs today. I hear they might not even be able to get Emily back from Paris.”
Kimmel’s joke about the popular Netflix title Emily in Paris, which follows its millennial American protagonist after she moves to the city of love for her dream job, followed the news that Netflix was laying off 150 employees.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Netflix would be letting go off 2 per cent of its total work force – mostly based in the US – over shifting “business needs rather than individual performance”.
Kimmel also quipped about Netflix’s recent crackdown on password sharing during his biting monologue, when he said: “Remember when Netflix openly encouraged us to share passwords? We were like, ‘How do these people make money?’ Turns out, they don’t.”
“So now they’re coming for our ad money — just technically your money, but you know what I mean. And it sucks,” he continued.
While reporting its quarterly earnings, Netflix appeared to place some blame on its falling subscriber numbers on users who share their subscriptions, enabling people to use the service without paying for it.
“Although I have to admit, after those smug b*****ds choked the life out of us for years, it feels really good to see them stoop to selling advertising,” Kimmel said at the Disney presentation.
“Everybody loves Bridgerton,” he continued, talking about Netflix’s popular Regency Era drama, before adding, “How much do you think they’ll love it when it’s interrupted by a tech commercial every four minutes, you zillion-dollar d***s? We already have the Netflix with commercials — it’s called Hulu. Shout out to Hulu, the Stephen Baldwin of streaming platforms.”
In a note to its employees, Netflix said it was gearing up to launch a cheaper, ad-supported subscription plan by the end of this year. It also indicated the company would start enforcing stricter rules over password sharing around the same time, The New York Times reported on 10 May.
Kimmel appeared at the event via video conferencing, after he announced he had tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time this month. In his absence, Andy Samberg and John Mulaney hosted ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday (18 May).
During his monologue, Kimmel also made jokes at the expense of Disney CEO Bob Chapek, network channels, Disney+, Paramount+ and the “plusterf***” of streaming services available to audiences in the US.