Turns out, it’s not so much the getting subscribers that is tricky for several of the top streaming services like HBO Max, Disney+ and Apple TV+. It’s keeping those subs.
According to new data from measurement company Antenna, about half the people who signed up for HBO Max in the days following its “Wonder Woman 1984” release were gone within six months (31% of them were gone within one month).
The same six-months-later loss is true for Disney+ and its “Hamilton” release, as well as Apple TV+ and its Tom Hanks World War II movie, “Greyhound.”
Below is an Antenna chart with Disney+ and HBO Max data. See those two huge spikes? The first one, the darker purple, is “Hamilton” on Disney+. The second one, the lighter purple (or maybe even pink?), comes courtesy of “WW84” on HBO Max.
(“WW84” debuted on HBO Max on Dec. 25, 2020. Antenna analyzed sign-ups from that day and the following two days, then tracked their retention. That’s the same methodology for each piece of content in this story, respective of their own release dates.)
Below is a similar chart with Apple TV+ and Netflix sign-ups. The Apple TV+ spike is “Greyhound.”
The first semi-sustained Netflix spike came courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in the U.S. That led to massive viewership of “Tiger King” and “Ozark” Season 3, and a general appetite for a large library of content. The later Netflix spike, before Christmas 2020, was when “Mank” and “Big Mouth” came out. “Bridgerton” would join the pack just in time for the holiday.
While the trend found here sure makes for some wild swings in daily sign-ups and cancellations, keeping half of the subscribers from a huge surge is still a good thing for a streaming service. Two steps forward and one step back makes for some tremendous longterm progress.
The ebb and flow is not totally unique to movies or movie-like events such as “Hamilton,” but the trend is usually tied to one *thing.* Within four months of last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, roughly half of the U.S. subscribers who signed up for Peacock were gone. The Comcast/NBCUniversal streaming service carried all of Tokyo’s events, while NBC’s broadcast channel had select high-profile events. Though the Olympics run for a few weeks, the one-off concept still applies there.
As you can see in the below chart, while Netflix certainly gained subscribers from the “Mank” release, it did not lose as many six months later. That speaks to the depth of Netflix’s library.
In the Hulu example, the weekly release of “Handmaid’s Tale” episodes almost certainly helped keep nearly 60% of the gains tied to the Season 4 premiere.
Antenna compiles daily subscriber sign-ups by aggregating data originating from third-party apps that helps users manage their emails and/or monthly budgets. The apps can detect a sign-up or cancellation via transactions or the actual emails about one’s streaming-subscription status. The company has a sample size of five million U.S. users. It uses that base to estimate behavior more broadly.
Antenna does not track subscribers coming and going from Amazon Prime, as that service’s main attraction for many users is still the free two-day shipping on retail orders, and not its Prime Video component.