Streamers face a tide of churning subscribers

Streaming services are contending with major subscriber churn.

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The Future. After huge gains during the first year of the pandemic, streaming services are contending with major subscriber churn. It’s most likely due to subscribers figuring out which streamers provide the most value on a set budget. But the best way to keep customers may be in figuring out how to keep viewers engaged with popular titles over a longer period of time.

Hit and recede
Audiences love streaming, but they have very little loyalty to the services.

  • According to data from Antenna, people who subscribe to a service to watch a big release ditch the service faster than any other subscriber — a phenomenon called churn.
  • Even though Disney+, HBO Max, and Apple TV+ saw huge spikes in sign-ups with the releases of Hamilton, Wonder Woman 1984, and Greyhound (respectively), half of U.S. subscribers who signed up to watch them were gone in six months.
  • But even if services lose subscribers, the big gains mean that they’re still net-positive in subscriber growth — just not as much as Wall Street wants, as evidenced by Netflix’s recent stock hit.

The average U.S. customer subscribes to an average of 3.6 services at any given time. Now that there are roughly a million services, the battle for streamers is to stay in a customer’s rotation as long as possible.

Buffet viewing
While the speed of subscriber churn may keep Hollywood execs up at night, data shows that there are a few things streamers can do to minimize that loss.

  • Maintaining large, diverse content libraries of older titles.
  • Releasing big, exclusive movies on a quarterly basis.
  • Getting rid of the binge model — customers who signed up for Hulu to watch The Handmaid’s Tale or Apple TV+ to watch Ted Lasso stayed around longer because episodes were released once a week.

As stated by MoffettNathanson, one thing is for certain: “The cost to build, the cost to market and the cost to retain customers will all be going up in a competitive market.”

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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