Streaming services lose ~50% of subscribers after big releases

Customers come for the buzzy release, then stay for the… well, they don’t stay. Which means studios must churn out the hits or pay for the classics.

If you’ve ever ditched a streaming service right after binging that hot new show all your friends were talking about, you’re not alone.

Streaming services lose ~50% of subscribers after big releases

The Wall Street Journal looked at data from subscriber measurement company Antenna. It showed big spikes in streaming sign-ups that coincided with buzzy releases, such as:

  • Musical Hamilton, Disney+ (July 2020)
  • DC flick Wonder Woman 1984, HBO Max (Christmas Day, 2020)
  • WWII drama Greyhound, Apple TV+ (July 2020)
  • The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Peacock

But 6 months later, ~50% of those new subscribers were gone from Disney+, HBO Max, and Apple TV+. For Peacock, it only took 4 months.

So what’s a streamer to do?

There are a couple of things that help retain customers:

  • Regularly churning out new and popular shows and films
  • Owning a big collection of older content
  • Dropping episodic series that can’t be binged in a single weekend

But these tactics don’t come cheap.

Netflix said it dropped $17B on content in 2021. HBO Max intends to spend $18B in 2022. NBCUniversal paid $500m to put all 201 episodes of “The Office” on Peacock for 5 years.

And then there’s Amazon, which Antenna didn’t include in its data because Prime Video comes with Amazon Prime.

Amazon is counting on a sizable audience to justify the $465m budget for the 1st season of its forthcoming Lord of the Rings adaptation — the most expensive season of TV ever.

Topics: Streaming Media

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