Event Series and Movies Add Subscribers to Streamers, But Do They Stay?

'Stranger Things'Credit: Netflix
You subscribe to a streamer to watch a certain thing. But what happens when that show or movie is over? 

Like many people across the world, I have too many streaming channels. I bounce between them, canceling and restarting them, trying to track the wave of shows I want to watch, movies that premiere, and all the hidden gems in between.

Streaming channels thrive on the surges they get when people purchase and then watch what they intend. But the one thing they're having trouble doing is keep the purchasers around. In this business, it's not enough to get eyes on one thing. You have to spend a lot of time and effort keeping them around as well. 

There's a lot of data that shows huge spikes when event series and movies drop. Take Hamilton on Disney. The graph below tracks subscribers at the moment you were able to watch the musical. 

Credit: Antenna
Similar numbers surround Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and even Greyhound on Apple TV+.

Titles that drop with notable stars and multiple quadrants always come with a spike in subscriptions. But what happens later? You can see from the Hamilton chart that things completely level off, and even drop in subsequent days and months. In fact, data suggest that six months after the title's release, they only retain around 50% of those subscribers. 

Credit: Antenna

So how are we able to actually track these stats with streamers being notoriously tight-lipped?

A company called Antenna aggregated the data. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Antenna is able to compile daily subscriber sign-ups to most streaming services by aggregating data coming from a series of third-party apps that help users manage their email inboxes or keep to a monthly budget. Such apps keep track of streaming-related transactions and emails confirming users’ decisions to sign up for or cancel a streaming subscription."

To retain subscribers, these streamers are trying to drop as many movies and series as possible, hoping for at least one noisy title a month to keep people hooked.

The average American household subscribes to 3.6 streaming services, according to Kagan media. Obviously, the services only care if you're subscribed to them. The plan used to be they'd use massive budgets to acquire old catalogs from movie studios and license new releases. But streaming services quickly got wise. There was no reason for them to pay studios to make content and then rent it for a limited time to get audiences. So more and more money every year has been set aside for these places to grow their own content, which they will have forever. 

Look at Apple TV+, which is growing slowly and steadily but only making their own content that will be on the platform forever. And while other places have a revolving door of licensed content, they're all spending much more now creating content that exists for them. This is the new wave in retention for viewers and their new and most successful way to get new people coming. If you have things native to just you, you create a need to buy and stay. 

None of this is foolproof, but it's where the industry is headed. And it's how these streaming services are trying to get you to stick around. Also, interestingly enough, it's the perfect collision of quantity and quality. They have so many new things coming to keep you excited, and they want them to be good to keep your money. 

We'll see where this strategy is headed, but it's another way things are rapidly changing in Hollywood and across the globe. 

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