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Hulu Churn More Than Doubles, Netflix Holds Strong

Ben Bowman

As more streaming services enter the arena, consumers are having to take a closer look at their entertainment budgets. Studies suggest the average U.S. home will pay for just over three streaming services by the end of this year, but which three?

Instead of locking in a full year with a service, savvy cord-cutters will simply “churn” services, turning on a subscription when a popular movie or show debuts, then letting the subscription lapse in favor of the hot new thing.

Antenna Analytics dug into the numbers and one remarkable point stands out: Netflix subscribers have been incredibly loyal.

While Netflix’s disappointing Q1 earnings call triggered a round of obituaries for the streaming world’s 800-pound gorilla, these numbers suggest the panic is premature. From Q1 2019 to Q1 2021, Netflix’s churn rate only grew by 0.1%. That’s simply jaw-dropping, especially when you factor in the price increases. Six months ago, Netflix bumped its Standard tier to $14 (up $1) and its Premium tier went from $16 to $18.

Antenna also points out that Netflix leads the industry in “Resubscribe Rate,” meaning that when they do lose a customer, they are more likely than competitors to win them back.

Hulu has not been as fortunate over the last two years. Antenna’s data shows their churn rate has more than doubled over the last 24 months, from 2.4% to 4.9%.

Part of the issue might be that Netflix is concentrating on building a massive library of originals, while Hulu has been more tentative in that space. If beloved content comes and goes from Hulu’s library, subscribers might also dip in and out.

Of course, increased competition is taking a toll. Antenna reports Disney+, discovery+, Peacock, and Apple TV+ now account for 22% of all subscriptions. Disney+ alone has accounted for 44% of all category growth since Q1 2019.

It will be interesting to see if Disney ever rolls up Hulu to Disney+ the way they have with the more mature content of Star in overseas markets. For now, they’re keeping those libraries separate and offering a bundle as an incentive to subscribe to its three streaming services.

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