Over the past several years, a seemingly endless supply of flashy new originals (and a global pandemic) encouraged consumers to build ever higher stacks of streaming platforms. Now in 2023, as workers return to the office and inflation takes a bite from disposable spending, consumers have become more judicious about their choice of platforms, Hub Entertainment Research noted in its latest report.
According to the researcher, subscribers have finally reached “peak subscriptions.” In June, Hub surveyed consumers about their maximum number of video platforms: 22% said they did not have a maximum number in mind and 35% said they had a maximum but had not reached it yet. The biggest segment (43%) said they are at their maximum number right now. But all three groups top out at roughly the same number: 7 different sources, across all categories (free and paid, cable and streaming, live and on-demand.)
With streaming, there are no barriers to jumping in and out of subscriptions, and consumers are taking advantage, Hub noted. In fact, more than 40% say that they have signed up for a subscription just to watch one show and 42% say they have signed up for a new platform, then dropped it within the first six months.
What Hub Entertainment Research defines as “quick churning” is especially common among some of the most important viewer segments. For instance, almost 60% of Gen Z viewers say they have dropped a new subscription soon after signing up. Moreover, viewers who spend the most on TV are also more likely to “quick churn”: more than half of those with four or more paid TV subscriptions have dropped a new one soon after signing on.
The implications of “quick churning” are big. In the past, streamers could rely on a steady stream of high-budget originals to attract new viewers. Now, they have to maximize their ROI on every show – and more importantly, make sure that when viewers have watched the show they signed up to see, there is something else queued up to hold their attention.
“Victory in the streaming wars had been defined by adding the most subscribers – usually via a firehose of flashy original content. As we are seeing viewers max out on subscriptions and content budgets contract, the number one job for streamers will be keeping subs engaged after the show they signed up to see is over,” commented Jon Giegengack, Principal and Founder of Hub Entertainment Research.