For the past several quarters, as the industry discussed growth slowdowns for some streaming players, Antenna emphasized that overall growth in the Premium SVOD category was still historically high. The second quarter of 2022 was different: Premium SVOD still grew, but not by much.
Quarterly Subscriber growth rate across Premium SVOD was the lowest we have seen in the 22 quarters for which Antenna has data (+1.2% vs. Q1; compared to +7.4% just two quarters ago). It was also the lowest absolute volume of Net Subscriber Adds since Q3’18 (+2.5M vs. Q1; compared to an average of +10.8M Subscriber Adds per quarter over the previous six quarters).
Paramount+ (+1.1M), Apple TV+ (+1.0M), and Discovery+ (+0.8M) did still manage significant Net Subscriber growth. But even those three services slowed down significantly, growing a collective +7% in Q2 vs. +13% last quarter.
Is there a seasonal factor at play? Maybe, but if so only partially. Q2 was also the slowest growth quarter of 2021, but we have never before seen a slowdown like this one.
Interestingly, increased Cancels were not the culprit for the growth slowdown; they remained consistent from last quarter, -28.5M. Instead, the growth slowdown was driven by a big drop in new Sign-ups; Gross Adds were down more than 18% from the previous quarter.
While Netflix’s challenging second quarter has been well-documented, one bright spot is that its performance did improve over the course of the quarter. April was the worst churn month that Antenna has ever observed for Netflix, at 3.8%. To put that in perspective, its highest churn month in 2021 was 2.3% (January). But Antenna observed their churn drop to 3.7% in May, and to 3.3% in June. Further, Q2 was Netflix’s biggest Gross Adds quarter in two years, with +3.2M. This uptick in new demand was likely driven in part by tentpole releases, such as Season 4 of Stranger Things, whose rollout was partitioned across May and July.
Does Q2 represent an anomaly, with consumers taking a streaming breather after several years of torrid growth - and maybe tightening their household budgets in a world of financial uncertainty? Or are we entering a new period of more moderate streaming growth?
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.