Unsubscribing from a streaming service isn’t always permanent. There’s actually a pretty good chance you’ll repurchase a previously canceled service, according to a new study from research firm Alumna Insights.
Twenty percent of streaming service buyers resubscribed to a service they’d previously dropped, the study said. A whopping 90% of users returned to the terminated service within a year of cancellation. Alumna Insights said discounts and new content were big attractors for users.
“Because someone cancels a streaming video service doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t enjoy it or they won’t return,” Michael Greeson, Alumna founder and principal analyst, said in a statement. “The question is what ‘hot buttons’ most encourage cancellers to [re enroll].”
The numbers illustrate the revolving door situation many streaming services find themselves in. Most players saw a subscriber spike in 2020, but numbers dropped off in the years that followed. Since then, streaming companies have been trying to get their numbers back up and stand apart from their competitors. When it comes to streaming services, discounts and content go hand in hand.
Streaming companies are in a particularly difficult place as of late. Customers are tightening their belts amid rising inflation and canceling a streaming service is an easy way to save a few bucks a month. Churn, or the rate of cancellations, has risen across the board.
Over the last few years, monthly spending on streaming subscriptions has declined 25% from $90 in 2021 to $73 in 2023, according to data from Parks Associates. In turn, rising inflation has caused streaming services to increase their fees.
On top of that, the pipeline of programming that might’ve drawn users in is halted due to the ongoing Hollywood strikes. The viewer migration to streaming services has impacted how writers get paid and not for the better. Streamed shows have fewer episodes and longer breaks between seasons in comparison to broadcast TV series resulting in smaller paychecks for writers. There are also far fewer residuals, or those checks paid out to writers and actors after the show airs.
“With investors holding executive’s feet to the fire about spending,” Greeson said. “The impetus behind the decade-long gravy train of streaming content is drying up, even as the Hollywood strikes continue, and the realities of market saturation set in.”
Alumna said there’s no one reason that someone might return to a service. Streaming services, along with the rest of the entertainment industry, are navigating uncharted waters. Discounts are a short-term solution but could buy companies extra time to continue building out competitive content catalogs.