Just days after a nature documentary hosted by former president Barack Obama launched on Netflix, the streaming company is in shambles, with its shares in freefall.
On April 13, Netflix released all five episodes of its documentary series Our Great National Parks, produced and narrated by Obama. While culture critics in the liberal media received the series warmly—even as one admitted, "I can't say that I learned a tremendous amount"—investors were less convinced.
In a stunning show of pessimism in the company's situation, Netflix's stock imploded on Tuesday, plunging 37 percent by Wednesday morning. The collapse was driven by Netflix's Tuesday announcement that it lost subscribers last quarter for the first time in more than a decade. The service is scrambling to remedy its poor subscriber numbers, announcing last month that it plans to start charging customers for sharing their accounts with others.
The company's decline is a reflection of the failure of its costly partnership with the former president. Netflix in 2018 entered into a multi-year agreement with Obama and his wife Michelle to produce films and series. It's unclear exactly how much cash the company burned to hire the Obamas, but considering that Netflix paid the creator of Glee $300 million for a five-year deal, the amount was likely exorbitant.
Through that deal, the Obamas brought to Netflix a documentary called American Factory, about an Ohio auto factory bought out by a Chinese state-backed company. While the film purported to shed light on a clash of cultures and the struggles of the American working class, it instead served as "a platform for Communist oligarchs to propagandize."
If Communist propaganda wasn't unpalatable enough for viewers, the Obamas are reportedly working to bring to Netflix a kids show called Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, a revival of Michelle Obama's failed crusade to get kids to eat healthier.
In Barack Obama's latest series, he takes viewers on a tour of the planet's greatest national parks and their wildlife, from the sea otters of California's Monterey Bay to the lions of his native country, on Kenya's Yatta Plateau.
Some critics of Netflix argue that the company's programming across the board, not just the content the Obamas brought to the site, is to blame for the company's hemorrhaging of subscribers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday that the "woke mind virus" has made Netflix "unwatchable."
That critique is borne out by Netflix's release this week of He's Expecting, a Japanese film about a "successful cisgender man" forced "to confront social inequities he'd never considered before" when he becomes pregnant.