Premium SVOD: Acquisition by Promotion

This post is a section from Antenna's 2021 Year in Streaming Report. If you are interested in receiving the full report, contact

As the Premium SVOD category became more competitive in 2021, several services utilized free trials, and increasingly, employed promotional offers in an effort to attract new users to their platforms.

The popularity of free trials was quite consistent year-over-year, with the number of Trial Sign-ups increasing from 60.4M to 61.0M. However, the top-line numbers do not tell the full story, as Disney+ and HBO Max both did not offer free trials in 2021. Disney+ removed its free trial ahead of Hamilton's July 2020 release, and HBO Max turned off its free trial prior to Wonder Woman 1984's December 2020 premiere(except for users who join via Hulu and YouTube TV add-ons).

The success of converting free trials to paid Subscriptions improved to 68.6% in 2021 from 66.3% in the prior year. Discovery+ (81.4%) and Peacock (77.9%) had the highest Trial Conversion Rates, and Starz (61.4%) was lowest in 2021.

 In addition to free trials, Premium SVOD services increasingly used promotional offers to drive user acquisition.

There were 8.4M promotional priceSign-ups in 2021, compared to just 3.3M in 2020.

Antenna found that Showtime was the most prevalent discounter, attracting nearly 20% of their 2021 Sign-ups at a promotional price.

While promotional price Sign-ups still make up a small portion of acquisition in the category, they were especially popular in Q4 2021, accounting for over 13% of all Sign-ups.

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.