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Report: Fewer Signups, Not Cancellations Are Slowing Streaming Growth

Stephen Silver

During the first year of the pandemic, streaming usage was through the roof, with those stuck at home having little else to do. Since then, we’ve seen Netflix lose subscribers in consecutive quarters, while other services have essentially plateaued when it comes to adding new customers.

Despite that, overall streaming usage has continued to grow, but in the second quarter, it grew by the smallest amount ever according to a new study from research firm Antenna.

The Antenna data indicates that the quarterly subscriber growth from the first quarter to the second was 1.2% — not in negative territory, but still “the lowest we have seen in the 22 quarters for which Antenna has data.” That number, in fact, had been 7.4% just two quarters before.

Also, the overall industry number of “net subscriber ads” in the quarter was 2.5 million, the lowest in nearly four years. The average number over the last six quarters had been 10.8 million subscribers added across the entire sector.

Antenna showed that Paramount+ and Apple TV+ each added more than 1 million subscribers in the quarter while discovery+ added nearly 800,000, but those three services grew by a collective 7%, compared to 13% in Q1. Since Apple does not typically release Apple TV+ subscriber figures, that 1 million figure appears to be an estimate.

The research also found that the slow growth isn’t coming from cancellations, which were flat, but rather due to “a big drop in new Sign-ups.”

As for Netflix specifically, the company lost 970,000 subscribers in Q2, which was its largest quarterly subscriber loss ever for the streaming giant but still better than the company had forecast. Antenna found that while April was the “worst churn month” that it has ever recorded for Netflix, the company’s performance got better in May and June, with the service having its best “Gross Ads” quarter in two years, thanks largely to the return of “Stranger Things” from a two-year hiatus.

Antenna ended the report with a question: “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?”

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