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Disney+ Most Likely to Keep Pandemic Subscribers, Warning Signs for HBO Max

Aubrey Meister, Ben Bowman

If there’s a silver lining for the global pandemic, it exists for tech companies that capitalized on a world immobilized. Perhaps no industry was better served by this than streaming video. A new survey by Hub Entertainment Research shows that 42% of people were watching a lot more TV in February 2021 than they were before.

As of last month, 44% of people surveyed say they added one or more new streaming services during the pandemic. One in four dropped at least one streaming subscription. Now that the pandemic appears to be improving gradually, will users keep their subscriptions to these various streaming platforms?

The study shows that some platforms are more likely to retain subscribers than others. Specifically, it looks like Disney+ users are eager to stay subscribed, while HBO Max users are less likely to do so. In just 16 months, Disney+ reached 100 million global subscribers, so it’s no surprise that it’s continuing to be a top streaming service.

Per the study, 77% of Disney+ users will definitely keep their subscriptions, compared to just 7% who say they’ll definitely cancel. Netflix also looks strong as the pandemic subsides, with 73% of users surveyed saying they will definitely keep it and only 4% saying they will drop it. But retention looks like it will be a problem for HBO Max. Only 63% of HBO Max subscribers plan to continue paying for their subscriptions, while 17% say they will definitely drop the streaming service.

We know that HBO Max saw a surge in subscribers when the service chose to debut “Wonder Woman 1984” online and in theaters on the same day. This followed the blockbuster announcement that all of Warner Bros. 2021 films will follow that strategy. That made some filmmakers furious, but it’s certainly driving subscriptions for now. Starting in 2022, the same-day release strategy will end for HBO Max, so subscribers will lose a huge benefit.

The race is on for streaming services to keep churning out enough content for subscribers to justify the monthly cost. Netflix and Disney+ have been the most aggressive with production, but you can expect other streamers to accelerate their efforts. ViacomCBS alone is looking to raise $3 billion to fund streaming content for Paramount+. We also know that Disney and Netflix lead the way with exclusive content, which gives them a considerable edge in the battle for subscribers.

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