Antenna: Netflix Added 2.8 Million Gross Subs in July

Netflix’s move to launch a lower-priced ad-supported subscription streaming option and eliminate free password sharing apparently continues to produce dividends on the subscriber number front.

New data from research firm Antenna suggests the streamer added 2.6 million gross subscribers in July. Netflix added 5.89 million net subs in the second quarter, including 3.5 million in June, to end the fiscal period with more than 238 million subs worldwide.

For the second month in a row Netflix led the SVOD category with nearly one in five premium SVOD gross sub adds, according to Antenna. The streamer earlier this year cancelled its $9.99 basic subscription plan for all new and returning subscribers.

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The research firm reports it gleans the Netflix data from online purchase receipts, credit, debit and banking data for demographic and behavioral skews.

Specifically, about 23% of Netflix sign-ups went to its $6.99 monthly ad-supported plan, up 4% compared to June 2023 — the highest portion of sign-ups since the launch of that plan in November 2022. Netflix charges subscribers sharing their account password an additional $7.99 monthly.

Netflix no longer provides quarterly subscriber growth projections.

 

 

Dish Lost 152,000 Sling TV Subscribers in 2022

Dish Feb. 23 reported its lost 152,000 Sling TV subscribers in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2022, to end the year with 2.334 million subscribers, down from 2.486 million subs at the end of 2021.

The decrease in net Sling subscribers was primarily related to higher churn (subscribers not renewing the service) following seasonal sports activity and lower new subscriber activations.

“We continue to experience increased competition, including competition from other subscription VOD and live-linear, over-the-top video service providers,” Dish said in a statement.

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The Colorado-based satellite pay-TV operator launched Sling in 2015 as a pioneering $20 monthly online pay-TV service — the first platform to offer standalone access to ESPN outside the traditional pay-TV bundle.

Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV leads the online pay-TV market with 4.5 million monthly subscribers, ahead of YouTube TV, Philo, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream, among others.

Dish ended 2022 with 7.416 million legacy satellite subscribers, which was down 805,000 subs from 8.221 million subs at the end of 2021.

Comcast Ending Free Subscriber Access to Peacock Streaming Service

Comcast Xfinity pay-TV and Flex members are losing free access to the Peacock streaming service.

Since the launch of the Peacock subscription streaming video platform on April 15, 2020, Comcast Xfinity pay-TV and Flex members have had free access to the $4.99 monthly (with ads)/$9.99 (without ads) service.

Beginning April 3, new Xfinity pay-TV subs and Flex users will have to pay for Peacock, which ended the most-recent fiscal period with 20 million paid subscribers — the lowest tally among major SVOD platforms. Current Xfinity/Flex members will have to begin paying for Peacock beginning June 26. The details were disclosed in an internal Comcast memo posted on social media platform Reddit.

“As part of Peacock’s growth strategy, we are shifting our focus to the Premium offering, which is more reflective of the brand and the unique experience we can bring subscribers,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson said in a statement first reported by Cord Cutters News.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, at a recent Wall Street event, indicated Xfinity subscribers would have to begin paying for Peacock “at some point.” Peacock stopped offering free ad-supported access at the beginning of February.

Omdia: U.S. to Add 40 Million SVOD Subscriptions This Year

Despite the economic uncertainty, cost of living crisis and saturation of video services in some countries, 2023 is on track to be a good year for subscription video on demand (SVOD) services according to analysis from Omdia.

“Moving on from the impact of COVID, the introduction of ad tiers and an abundance of new content has meant that 2023 will be an important year for growth in SVOD and its subscribers,” Maria Rua Aguete, senior director in Omdia’s Media and Entertainment practice, said in a statement.

Rue Aguete said 2020 was a boom year for online video streaming, due to the pandemic and subsequent outdoor limitations, which resulted in more than 300 million new global subscription online video services.

“In absolute terms, 2020 added more subscribers to the video on demand industry than at any other point in history and most likely, at any point to come,” she said.

Omdia contends that all industries and economies tend to move between waves of growth and pools of stagnation and SVOD is no exception. While 2020 was a year for the records, 2023 will be a year of industry-wide cooling despite the myriad of services coming from big Hollywood players. The launch of advertising tiers does mean that for many of these players 2023 would still be a year of growth and SVOD players will add new 143 million subscriptions – these figures represent 50% of what was achieved in 2020 the record year.

Even in the U.S. where subscription video services have reached maturity, Omdia expects almost 40 million new SVOD subscriptions.

“The biggest battle services will face is the continuing rise in prices, which may scare customers and could slow down growth,” Rue Aguete said.

Due to the introduction of advertising tiers, SVOD players like Netflix could still expand a saturated U.S. subscription market, while also acquiring subscribers in Latin America or Asia-Pacific region where price was considered a reason not to subscribe.

“We expect 14% of all the subscriber growth in 2023 will come from Latin America,” Rua Aguete said.

Verizon’s Fios TV Lost 339,000 Subscribers in 2022

Verizon Jan. 24 disclosed it lost 80,000 Fios TV subscribers in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2022) to end the fiscal year with a decline of 339,000 pay-TV subs. The telecom, which lost 281,000 pay-TV subs in 2021, ended 2022 with 3.23 million Fios TV subs.

At the same time, Verizon added 56,000 high-speed internet subscribers to end the year with more than 6.7 million broadband subs, up 3% from 6.54 million subs at the end of 2021.

The telecom, which offers mobile subs free access to third-party subscription streaming services AMC+ and Disney+ (including Disney bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu), recently launched +Play, a new platform enabling subscribers easier access to third-party SVOD services, including Netflix.

“Wireless mobility and nationwide broadband will be two of the most significant contributors to our growth for the next several years,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

Report: Pricing, Packaging, Promotion Drive SVOD Sub Retention

Subscription streaming video services’ focus on pricing, promotion and marketing are key to retaining and attracting subscribers, according to new data from Recurly, a direct-to-consumer subscription management and billing platform.

Citing research from more than 2,200 client merchants that support more than 55 million active monthly subscribers globally, Recurly found that in 2022, consumers took advantage of almost 35 million free trials from 851 participating subscription sites. Overall, the average site-level conversion rate was 38.1%, demonstrating that consumers are more likely to try new services if those services include a discount or trial.

“Benchmarks and best practices are a critical part of how [streaming services] partner with our customers,” Dan Burkhart, co-founder and CEO of Recurly, said in a statement.

The report found that flexible payment options are key. Debit cards are a primary form of payment across North America and Europe, accounting for 52.9% of global monthly transactions. Credit cards follow with 26.7% of total transactions, and PayPal comes in third overall as the most popular alternative payment method.

Taken together, the data reveals that consumers expect choices. The report also found that decline rates have remained steady, but are lowest for credit cards and highest for debit cards. Furthermore, APMs resulted in a 1.5% lower rate of fraudulent declined transactions when compared against credit and debit cards.

Roughly 40% of surveyed merchants make subscriber personalization adjustments each year. Recurly found that dunning emails, which are sent to customers to remind them a payment is due, are an effective marketing tactic for post-subscriber acquisition, responsible for recovering $214 million in revenue in 2022 alone.

Given that churn rates are a reflection of shifting consumer behavior and preferences, the increase in the average overall churn rate from 6.6% year-over-year to 6.8% in 2022 can be attributed to economic factors, namely the pandemic and rising global inflation, according to the report.

Access to exclusive content, brand preference and discounts are primary drivers of subscription signups, while price increases and perceived decreasing value have the opposite effect. This means that subscription businesses must intentionally communicate both the value and relevance of their product or service and remain conscious of the impact, which pricing decisions can have on churn.

“Subscription-based businesses can use these findings to evaluate their own performance against industry benchmarks, but also identify efficiencies and execute strategies, which will help them level-up in 2023,” Burkhart said.

Leichtman: Pay-TV Operators Up Q1 Sub Loss to 1.95 Million

New data from the Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 93% of the market — lost more than 1.95 million net video subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared with a net loss of 1.91 million subs in the previous-year period.

The top pay-TV operators now account for about 74.1 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having about 40.5 million video subs, other traditional pay-TV services having 26.2 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online pay-TV services having about 7.4 million subs.

Leichtman found that the top cable providers had a net loss of about 825,000 video subs in the quarter, compared to a loss of about 780,000 subs in the same period in 2021. Other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 625,000 subs, down from a loss of about 865,000 subs in 1Q 2021.

Top publicly reporting online TV platforms, such as Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and Fubo TV, had a net loss of about 505,000 subs, compared to a loss of about 265,000 subs in 1Q 2021.

“Over the past year, top pay-TV providers had a net loss of 4.735 million subs, similar to a loss of about 4.82 million over the prior year,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement.

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Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2022 Net Adds in 1Q 2022
Cable Companies
Comcast 17.664 million (512,000)
Charter 15.721 million (112,000)
Cox 3.310 million (80,000)
Altice 2.658 million (73,600)
Mediacom 555,000 (17,000)
Breezeline 339,021 (7,708)
Cable One 238,000 (23,000)
Total Top Cable 40.485 million (825,308)
Other Traditional Services
DirecTV 14.300 million (300,000)
DISH TV (DBS) 7.993 million (228,000)
Verizon Fios (Telco) 3.566 million (78,000)
Frontier (Telco) 363,000 (17,000)
Total Top Other Traditional 26.222 million (623,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Hulu + Live TV 4.100 million (200,000)
Sling TV 2.252 million (234,000)
fuboTV 1.056 million (73,562)

 

Total Top Online TV 7.408 million (507,562)
Total Top Providers 74.115 million 1.955 million

HBO Max Projected to Reach 80 Million Subs This Year

Following a sluggish start, WarnerMedia’s subscription streaming video/AVOD platform HBO Max is running on all cylinders. New estimates from eMarketer suggest the SVOD service will reach 80 million subscribers by the end of the year. That’s up from previous projection of 100 million subs by 2025.

The research firm contends that WarnerMedia’s decision to consolidate the HBO Go and HBO Now platforms into Max helped drive up subscriptions. However, with Amazon last month announcing it would drop Max from its Prime Channels platform, industry scuttlebutt suggests the streamer could lose 5 million Max subs.

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“The older streaming services HBO Go and Now have been replaced by Max, and HBO has been removed from Amazon Prime Video Channels,” analyst Ross Benes wrote in a post. “These developments allow Max to absorb viewership from various HBO domains that have either been shuttered or rebranded.”

Benes believes that with Max now available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, a better picture has emerged regarding subscriber traction. Max’s sub additions were also bolstered by Warner Bros. Pictures releasing its new movies straight to the streaming service in 2021.

“Together, the shrinking theatrical window, clearer subscriber metrics from the company, improved distribution, and consolidated operations have helped HBO Max add viewers at a faster rate than we previously expected,” Benes wrote.

Ampere: Pay-TV Added 3.1 Million Subs Globally in Q2

The pay-TV market may be in decline — especially in the United States — but globally, the industry saw an addition of 3.1 million subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30), according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm said that despite the loss of live sports due to the coronavirus pandemic — a major draw for pay-TV — emerging markets have seen subscriber gains, spearheaded by China adding 3.1 million subs, and offset by a loss of 1.1 million subs in the rest of the world.

The data is based on a “bellwether” of the top 70 reporting pay-TV operators, which represent more than half of the world’s 1.1 billion pay-TV subscribers.

The U.S. continued to be the loss leader, with 1.4 million subs decline in the quarter across bellwether companies — despite sub upticks from Charter and Dish Network. Other loss leaders included Australia, with Foxtel being hit particularly hard by the lack of sports in Q2; and Denmark, which has been suffering ongoing pay-TV losses since Q4 2016.

“While some countries are seeing pay-TV subscriptions suffer due to the pandemic, there is still growth in the market, driven partly by bundling of services,” senior analyst Toby Holleran said in a statement. “Cord-cutters in a number of developed territories like Canada — whose pay-TV market continues to mirror its North American neighbor — are being replaced by newer TV customers in emerging markets, leaving the market as a whole stable.”

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Holleran contends there is some sub growth left in developed nations such as France and Spain, which he said are bucking the trend of “stagnation” in Western territories.

Comcast Loses 149,000 Q4 Cable Subs; Record 733,000 Subs in 2019

In another reminder the traditional pay-TV business model’s leak is widening, Comcast Cable Jan. 23 reported a drop of 149,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2019. The nation’s largest cable operator lost a record 733,000 video subs in 2019 — underscoring consumers’ growing disinterest in the cable bundle and migration toward less-expensive over-the-top video distribution.

Comcast, which ended the year with 20.2 million video subscribers, is offsetting video sub losses with broadband — the lifeblood of video streaming. The company is one of the largest ISP operators, adding 424,000 high-speed Internet subs in the quarter; and 1.4 million for the fiscal year, including business customers.

Comcast ended 2019 with 28.6 million broadband subs, up 5% from 27.2 million subs at the end of 2018.

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In a statement, CEO Brian Roberts lauded the company’s broadband subscriber growth, adding the Comcast in 2020 would differentiate its broadband product in the U.S. through innovations like Flex and xFi Advanced Security; accelerating the deployment of Sky Q and launching a new broadband service in Italy.

The executive said Comcast has high hopes for the April debut of Peacock, the company’s first branded over-the-top video platform featuring both subscription and ad-supported services.

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“Underscoring our confidence in the continued success of our company, we are pleased to announce a 10% increase in our dividend, our 12th consecutive annual increase,” Roberts said.