Streaming subscribers take winding paths, research shows

By NewscastStudio

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New market research reveals that streaming video subscribers do not follow simple linear paths of acquisition and cancellation. Rather, many users cycle through services, canceling and resubscribing or switching between providers over time.

According to a custom analysis by research firm Antenna and Adobe, over one-third of users who canceled a premium subscription video on demand (SVOD) service like Netflix or Max between the first quarter of 2021 and 2022 later resubscribed within 12 months.

Nearly a quarter returned within just three months of canceling. However, Antenna found that subscriber loyalty declines over time.

Looking at subscribers who first signed up for a premium SVOD service between the first quarters of 2021 and 2022, 45 percent remained subscribers 12 months later.

But for subscribers on their second go-around with a service, the 12-month survival rate dropped to 36 percent. For those on their third or further subscription cycle, just 26 percent remained after a year.

The research shows an increasing portion of sign-ups for premium services now come from “serial churners” — users who actively switch between services. In 2019, serial churners accounted for 10 percent of new premium SVOD subscribers. By the first quarter of 2023, they made up one-third of new sign-ups.

Understanding the winding subscriber journey rather than seeing cancellation as permanent is critical for subscription services aiming to improve customer lifetime value, Antenna’s Brendan Brady noted.

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