When Netflix reported a loss of subscribers in US & Canada for Q1, it generated speculation that video streaming had peaked, and is beginning a downward trend.
The Netflix news was significant, for sure, and Antenna took inventory of their results (link) and detailed which services those who canceled Netflix went on to join (link). But a more holistic look at the Premium SVOD category shows that streaming growth continues, albeit with some challenges driven by a more fickle consumer and an increasingly competitive market.
Antenna finds that U.S. Subscriptions in the Premium SVOD category grew +4.0% QoQ and +24.7% YoY, despite Netflix’ losses. While the quarterly growth rate is down from the torrid pace of the last five quarters, it is still growing at a rate consistent with recent history.
The growth in Q1’22 was largely driven by Peacock and Paramount+. Antenna data indicates these two services combined to add over 6.1M U.S. Subscribers, representing 80% of subscription growth for the category.
Incumbents Netflix & Hulu continue to see their Share of Subscriptions fall. In addition, Antenna observes a similar dynamic taking place for Disney+, as its growth rate falls below that of the category as a whole.
But, the most important factor shaping the growth dynamic for the category is volatility.
Antenna observed 37.4M new Premium SVOD Subscriptions in the Q1’22. This number is consistent with the previous two quarters, but dramatically higher than previous history. To put it in perspective, in Q1’19 - a simpler time when Netflix and Hulu were still growing, and services like Disney+ and Peacock did not exist - we saw 10.3M new Subscriptions in the category. That is a 3 year CAGR of 54%.
The growth challenge? The number of Cancellations has grown even faster. In Q1’22, Antenna observed just under 30 million Cancellations in the category, 12% higher than any other quarter in history, and more than 4.5X the Cancel volume of the same quarter three years prior - a 65% CAGR.
Managing that level of volatility - ten million cancellations every month! - is a remarkable challenge, and is becoming the defining task of video streaming services.
Brendan Brady is a Content Strategy Associate at Antenna, a measurement and analytics company providing insight into purchase behavior and subscription metrics across the new media landscape.