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Report: New Streaming Sign-ups Driven by Major Events, Price Promotions

Matt Tamanini

What really drives new streaming sign-ups? Analytics company Antenna took a look at the trends over the past year of the subscription streaming industry. Their analysis supported two of the driving philosophies behind subscriber acquisition: Attract customers with big events and hard-to-pass-up deals.

Led by the Super Bowl, 2021 saw major spikes in subscriber growth across nearly all streaming platforms centered around major events. Super Bowl LV, which was available on then-CBS All Access on Feb. 7, 2021, garnered over 750,000 new sign-ups, the largest increase for any streamer last year.

In addition to the Big Game, other tentpole events – from sports to movie day-and-date releases to new series – regularly drove between 200,000 to 300,000 new streaming sign-ups in the United States alone. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was another boon for CBS All-Access, boosting subscriptions by over 350k in March; while the launch of “Dexter: New Blood” added nearly 280k subscribers for Showtime.

Nearly 19% of CBS All-Access/Paramount+’s 26.6 million new subscriptions added last year revolved around major content moments, according to Antenna.

Similarly, 23% of Peacock’s new customers joined the service around the streamer’s major content moments, such as “The Office” joining the platform, WWE live events, and English Premier League soccer.

According to Antenna, in addition to – and often in conjunction with – major events, streaming services attempted to attract new subscribers to their platforms with free trials and price promotions. Showtime led all streamers by adding nearly 20% of their 2021 sign-ups via a discounted rate.

In total, there were 8.4 million promotional-price sign-ups last year as compared to 3.3M in 2020; an increase of 154.5%.

Obviously, that number is colored by the increasing ubiquity of streaming services, but Antenna also saw a substantial increase in full-price sign-ups as well. The firm noted an increase of nearly 28%, from 97.7M to 124.9M full-price subscriptions year-over-year.

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