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Streaming Companies Scramble to Keep Subscribers in a Post-Pandemic World

Derek Walborn

As summer marches on with mask mandates and pandemic regulations yielding to sunshine and a return to socialization, streaming platforms are scrambling to finds ways to both keep new subscribers interested enough to continue to tune in and maintain at least some of the unprecedented growth they enjoyed as the world remained indoors.

While the U.S. economy is in better shape now than it was at this time last year, the desire by many to shake off cabin fever and re-enter the world doesn’t mean that streaming companies will be in on the same type of trajectory.

It’s going to be an uphill battle. Consumers may not be keen to continue their streaming subscriptions every month, with many opting to dip in and out, depending on their interest in what different services have to offer.

A recent survey conducted by Antennas Direct also implies that the streaming gravy train may be hitting the brakes as viewers look to trim their entertainment budgets.

According to the report, 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.

Streaming platforms, beholden to their investors, need to fight slipping numbers in order to continue to pour money into original content in order to bolster their proprietary platforms.

Data analytics firm Kantar Media has reported that while 12.9% of U.S. households added a new subscription service at this time a year ago, only 3.9% of the same group did the same this quarter.

According to Kantar’s research, Prime Video is currently leading the pack this quarter with 24.2% of new subscribers, no doubt due to the blurry lines between Amazon’s Prime shipping subscription and its streaming video service. HBO Max clocked in at 12.5%, followed by Disney+ with 11.6% and discovery+ with 9%.

Netflix, reigning king of the streaming revolution, only managed to grab 8% of the new subscribers logged this quarter.

Netflix’s performance may pale in comparison to its competitors, it’s important to keep in mind that the streaming giant has already all but conquered the domestic market, beating their subscriber estimates for the second quarter thanks to their investment in growth overseas. However, the company hasn’t positioned itself at the top without a lot of work and they are certainly not content to merely tread water as the sharks continue to circle.

Netflix has officially announced its plans to include video games on its platform going forward, along with its usual fare. According to the company, games will appear on the service as another genre category and will not cost members any more to play.

“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV,” said Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings. “We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.”

Netflix and Disney+ rank highly with viewers who intend to keep their streaming subscriptions indefinitely, although nothing is to be taken for granted as the past year has thrown the world more curveballs than can be counted.

Whether it’s testing the waters of the gaming industry, major investments in the reliable viewership of live sports or politically questionable acquisitions and mergers, the media giants show no signs of weariness as they each continue in their own individual quests for endless growth and viewership.

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