Future of TV Briefing: How major streamers are stepping up the fight for subscribers

October 06, 2021

By Tim Peterson

The Future of TV Briefing this week looks at how the playing field among major subscription-based streamers is shaking out as Netflix looks to redouble its grip, Disney+ foresees slowing subscriber growth and others prep expansion plans.

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Streaming war turns battle royale

The key hits:

  • The fourth quarter of 2021 is setting up to be a fiery time for subscription-based streamers.
  • Netflix is looking to reestablish its grip on audiences’ attentions.
  • Disney expects its streaming subscriber growth to slow.
  • Others like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Apple’s Apple TV+ are preparing to expand.

The subscription-based streaming wars have been heating up since Disney debuted Disney+ nearly two years ago. Now it’s time for a heat check.

After Netflix’s subscriber growth slowed — and even inverted in the U.S. and Canada — in the first half of the year, the preeminent streamer projected that a refortified programming lineup toward the end of the year would reignite its customer base. Meanwhile, Disney has already been closing the subscriber gap to Netflix, thanks to its bundle approach. Additionally, the likes of Apple’s Apple TV+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max had either been gaining ground or preparing to make bigger moves.

However, for as much as the subscription-based streaming war is heating up, it also seems to be cooling down in certain respects.

Although Netflix appears to have bounced back from last year’s pandemic-induced production hiatus, Disney is still dealing with production delays, and its CEO Bob Chapek said on Sept. 21 that Disney+’s subscriber growth in the final three months of 2021 will likely slow as a result. Furthermore, streaming’s share of viewership among U.S. audiences stagnated in August, per Nielsen, suggesting last year’s flood of attention has started to ebb.

These ups and downs are creating a scenario where the fight for subscribers will become even more volatile as the playing field among streaming services becomes more level. According to a survey conducted in August by Hub Entertainment Research, the percentage of people who consider Netflix to be their default TV viewing source has dipped this year as those defaulting to Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max or Disney-owned Hulu inched up.

Hub Entertainment Research survey, August 2021

Fueling that volatility is the volatility with which subscribers sign up for and cancel streaming services. According to a survey TiVo conducted in the second quarter of 2021, 39% of respondents said they reevaluate how they spend …read more

Source:: Digiday


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