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Consumers Are Looking to Limit Spending on Streaming Services in Post-Pandemic World

Derek Walborn

With stay-at-home mandates and remote workforces turning the entire world into a captive audience, streaming services capitalized on the pandemic in a major way. From making record-breaking gains in subscribers to the launching of entirely new platforms like Peacock and discovery+, it’s been a wild ride.

In the company’s Q1 earnings report, Disney announced that Disney+, which launched in November of 2019, had 103.6 million subscribers. The company added a total of 8.7 million subscribers in the first three months of 2021.

Disney also reported that Hulu added 2.2 million subscribers for a total of 41.6 million so far in 2021.

Even Peacock, despite its rocky start and early missteps with some high profile content, improved to 42 million signs-ups, increasing from 33 million at the end of 2020, and 22 million sign-ups at the end of Q3.

However, if a recent survey conducted by Antennas Direct is any indication, the gravy train might be coming to a halt.

44% of people surveyed added one or more streaming service subscriptions to their monthly bill over the course of the pandemic.

Two out of every five surveyed said that they already had to make sacrifices elsewhere to pay for their streaming services, and four out of five say that they will have to cut back on them in order to allocate funds for bills and utilities. As people tentatively start to imagine a world with the pandemic in the rearview mirror, it’s becoming clear that not every new service is going to make the cut.

“We could see a major shift in TV subscriptions and services as many consumers look for more affordable entertainment options. Streaming providers are likely to see the biggest impact,” the report said.

“Consumers want services that are affordable, but also offer a high-quality experience that isn’t confined to their TV set. Even while they were stuck at home one in five Americans primarily used a mobile device or laptop to watch TV, and one in four plan to watch even more TV on their mobile device post-COVID.“

A sad and confusing piece of data for the now-dead Quibi, a streaming service banking on its unique mobile-only content that sees the pandemic’s lockdowns and big-screen access as a major reason for its shutdown!

Consumers have already spoken up somewhat about their future spending, with Disney+ subscribers planning to continue their subscription indefinitely, no doubt helped by the platform’s rollout of exclusive Marvel and Star Wars content, including the upcoming “Loki” series.

Netflix, seemingly unstoppable in spite of abysmally missing its Q1 projections, also seems to have little to worry about with regard to consumers jumping ship thanks to their high-quality original programming.

While this particular survey only drew data from a pool of 1,200 consumers, it’s not hard to imagine that the findings could be a bellwether of things to come as economic tension, nicer weather, and the lifting of pandemic mandates coalesce to create a new environment.

As the summer sun gets brighter, the cracks in a lot of streaming services, whether they be related to engaging content or the loss of popular programming, will surely begin to show.

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