Stay at home orders, lockdowns, public health restrictions – call them what you like; they’ve been a necessary preventive measure that’s led to a profound lack of movement and outdoor activity over the last 18 months. And, without club sport, dinner parties, gym classes and pub catch-ups, we’ve looked for alternative leisure activities. That’s led to an opportunity like no other for subscription streaming services.
Of course, Netflix and Stan were already popular before COVID-19, and Disney+ launched just before the pandemic hit. Binge, News Corp’s streaming service, launched just after restrictions began to be imposed. But no matter whether a streaming service was established or brand new, new subscribers came knocking in their hundreds of thousands.
Nobody wanted this pandemic. But it’s been a boon for this sector of the economy and its members have refused to look their (particularly unattractive) gift horse in the mouth. The windfall came in the guise of significantly changed consumer behaviour during 2020, and streaming companies acted quickly, focusing their business strategy on acquisition of new subscribers.
Typically, what follows periods of intense acquisition, leading to big spikes in subscriber numbers, is high churn. And we saw just that, to some extent at least, in the second quarter of 2020. But since the drop, there’s been a plateau period and that’s down in great part to the smartest streaming companies shifting their strategy.