Forget Streaming 'Churn' - Worry About Subscriber Burn

Traditional "churn" measures have been a major issue for streaming -- and cable networks and operators long before that.

But "churn" typically refers to existing subscribers departing from a service -- typically in the single percentages -- on a specific time-period basis. It does not reference overall subscriber declines because churn does not address new subscribers coming on board.

For example, Netflix may have a “churn” rate of 3%. But overall quarter-to-quarter, it continues to keep growing.

But now, some established streamers are seeing actual quarterly or monthly declines. Recently, AMC said that on a “sequential” basis, it witnessed a 2% drop in subscribers to 11 million from 11.2 million.

That may not be statistically significant, but it may be a warning sign.

Just days before this news, Warner Bros. Discovery cited a 2 million quarter-to-quarter subscriber loss in transitioning to the Max streaming platform's name-brand from HBO Max. This may have more to do with changing operations in making the change, rather than actual content availability or promotion.



AMC+ may be the harbinger of things to come -- especially for small and mid-size streaming operators.

AMC+, like other platforms, may still be adapting to industry changes.

Like other platforms, AMC+ will launch a cheaper ad-supported platform later this year. Meanwhile, Max continues to slowly push its ad-supported option for new and/or existing subscribers.

Perhaps there is more to come. Pricey licensed TV and movie content, as well as high production costs related to original programming, might continue to rise -- regardless of wider efforts to slow down those expenses.

And then there is this X factor hanging over the heads of streaming TV executives -- many analysts expect that any resolution of the Writers Guild of America and the SAG-AFTRA strikes could ultimately push expenses even higher, as those professional workers continue to demand better salaries and pay deals for content on streaming platforms. 

Kantar says that at the end of last year, total U.S. households totaled 115.6 million -- now 89% of all U.S. homes -- with the average household getting 5.4 premium video streaming apps -- up from 5.2 in the third quarter.

All this indicates that this is mature business with competitive struggles only increasing. Big churn numbers will continue; but so will overall declines for some platforms.
Falling streamers are incoming.

Next story loading loading..