On September 9th, 2020, Netflix faced backlash after releasing the French movie “Cuties.” When Netflix shared the poster for the film in August, there was an outcry due to the perceived provocative poses of the young girls featured in the poster. Netflix apologized for the release of the poster but did not pull the movie from its streaming platform.
Once the film was released on September 9th, the controversy was reignited – this time with real implications for Netflix’s subscription figures. The streaming giant has faced cancellations and backlash before, especially around their use of blackface in recent years, yet this time, the cancellation figures seem significantly more eminent.
Searches for ‘cancel netflix’ surged on September 10th after the phrase started trending on Twitter. On September 9th, only Netflix was capturing search traffic on the term “cancel Netflix.” The following day, the media had caught onto the trend and started writing articles about the controversy. The New York Post captured 40% of all search traffic for the term that day.
Website Cancelation Visits Surge Following Cuties Controversy
When the poster was first released in August, Netflix saw a small uptick in visits to their cancellation confirmation page (help.netflix.com). On August 20th, the day Netflix issued their apology for the poster, visits to their cancellation page were up 58% from the previous day. They had over 19.7k visitors that day – the highest number year-to-date. Visits to Netflix’s cancellation page remained high for the following few days until the cuties controversy died down as the news cycle moved on.
However, the cuties controversy was thrust back into the limelight once the film was released. In the midst of the fall-out, visits to Netflix’s cancellation confirmation page surged – a proxy for understanding the overall number of cancellations. On September 10th, visits to the Netflix cancellation page reached over 35K, an 187% increase from the previous day.
The number of visits continued to rise throughout the weekend, reaching a peak of 41.6K visitors on September 12th. This number is unprecedented at nearly three times the average number of daily visits in August.
When comparing the percentage of visits to Netflix’s cancellation confirmation page out of the total number of visits to the website, we can see further evidence of this trend. For the week of September 7, 0.12% of total traffic was to the cancellation page, which is almost double the overall average (0.06%) for the past 3 months.
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