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Netflix, Disney+ Show Industry-Best Churn Rates, Apple TV+ Still Bleeding Subscribers

Ben Bowman

Listen to any investor presentation from a streaming company and you’re sure to hear a word that strikes fear into the entire industry: “churn.” Although we rank streaming services in terms of active subscribers, a certain number of accounts walk away every month. A great streaming service keeps most of its subscribers. A struggling service loses people who join, whether that’s through a free trial or a full-price subscription.

According to new data from Antenna Analytics, we’re getting a better sense of who’s keeping their subscribers and who can’t hold on.

As we’ve seen previously, Netflix wears the anti-churn crown. Just 2.4% of Netflix subscribers walk away each month. Disney+ is seeing encouraging signs, too - only 3.7% of their subscribers pull the plug when their subscription is up. That number has been falling since January of 2021, suggesting that Disney’s increased content efforts are keeping their customers happy. Whether that’s the new Marvel series like “WandaVision” and “Loki” or the regular stream of new Pixar films, Disney is doing enough to stay in second place.

It’s not all fairy dust for Disney, however. Hulu’s churn has been steadily on the rise since March. Perhaps that’s why Disney is being more aggressive with its bundle offering.

Another big question is if or when Netflix subscribers might throw in the towel over price increases. You'll have to pay more for your Netflix subscription in the U.S. and Canada sometime before the end of March. Since Netflix doesn’t have the other revenue streams of its competitors, there’s no way for it to absorb the price tag for more content without charging more. The service has to charge as much as it can without scaring away too many users. For now, it seems we haven’t hit that point.

Another notable success story is discovery+, which has cut its churn in half since subscribers were first recorded in March 2021. With a WarnerMedia Discovery merger in the works for Q2, we’ll see if there’s a push to merge or bundle discovery+ with HBO Max. There’s very little overlap in the content between the two, but there may also be very little overlap in the audiences. It may be wise to start with a bundle offer before leaping into a full-blown merger.

As for the services most in danger, Peacock and Apple TV+ seem to be in serious trouble. In the case of Apple TV+, many users get to sample the service for free when buying a new Apple device, so they may simply decide the limited library isn’t worth $4.99 when that bill finally arrives. This data from Antenna suggests 1-in-10 Apple TV+ users opt-out every month.

Today, Peacock crowed about its 24.5 million active accounts. But just 9 million actively pay for the service and another 7 million get it for free as part of a bundle with their cable package. With 7.6% of subscribers walking away each month at the end of Q3, it’s no wonder NBCUniversal refused to share numbers during that earnings call. Things may be looking a little rosier with a robust Olympics offering, the increased demand for back seasons of “Yellowstone,” and a $3 billion content spend for 2022.