Plot twist for Netflix as new viewers tune out

Investors are pushing the off button on Netflix shares Wednesday due to worries the company is headed for a slowdown as competition heats up and it starts to lose an audience that was once captivated with nothing much else to do during the health crisis.

Those concerns were fueled by a huge miss in Netflix's new subscriber numbers.

Just shy of 4 million people worldwide signed up for the service in the January to March period, that was just a fraction of the record 15.8 million who signed on the same time a year ago.

Netflix blamed the shortfall on a smaller number of new titles due to movie and TV production delays.

The world's leading streaming company relies on new content to draw fresh paying customers.

It projects new subscribers will come back in the second-half of the year when it releases a slate of new movies and updates to its TV series.

But even its outlook left investors wanting more. Netflix expects to add 1 million new customers in the April to June quarter....compared to analysts forecasts of nearly 4.8 million.

Some analysts point to Netflix's underwhelming subscriber numbers as an indication of what is to come with people expected to spend less time consuming streaming media as vaccinations spread and cities loosen restrictions on movie theaters and other forms of entertainment.

At the same time - rival media companies have declared streaming their priority and are spending billions to compete with Netflix.

Disney+, barely around for a year and a half, already has more than 100 million subscribers, that's nearly half of Netflix's 207 million.

That competition could be forcing Netflix to dig deeper for new content. It recently signed an eye-popping deal for the rights for two sequels for "Knives Out" starring Daniel Craig. It reportedly paid between $400 million and $450 million for the rights, which would make it one of the biggest movie streaming deals ever. Netflix declined to confirm financial details.

Shares of Netflix fell 7 percent in early Wednesday trading.