Streamers are Retaining Subscribers by Leveraging Movie Premieres




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The shift to blockbuster movies receiving home premieres has likely made a permanent change in the streaming industry. Although more theaters may reopen later this year and in the years to come, streaming services and movies alike have mutually benefitted from this straight-to-streaming arrangement 2020 threw at us. But mostly, streaming services have the most to gain from this deal.

Perhaps one of the most lucrative setups is the one HBO Max secured for itself with its monthly WarnerBros movie releases that will hit the streamer the same day as theaters. It started reaping the benefits on its first premiere with Wonder Woman 1984 giving HBO Max its biggest day for new engagers, surpassing even the streamer’s launch date.

In addition to new subscribers, a guaranteed calendar filled with a new premiere each month means current subscribers are less tempted to cancel between releases and then sign up again in time for when a new movie drops. HBO Max’s WarnerBros release schedule is outlined below in this graph by Diesel Labs.

Other streaming services like Hulu have cashed in on the straight-to-streaming bit with Golden Globe-winners and Oscar-contenders Nomadland and The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and Prime Video has jumped on board with the release of Borat 2 and Coming 2 America.

While Netflix is sticking to in-house content, the streaming giant is taking advantage of strategically scheduling its new releases in a way that will retain subscribers. At the beginning of the year, Netflix announced it will be releasing at least one new movie every week in 2021. Netflix has made a name for itself as one of the leaders in providing what would be considered “blockbuster” movies outside of the theater. That credibility just works to the streamer’s advantage now that theater releases have shifted, so Netflix decided revealing its 2021 lineup is a smart move to build anticipation.

Additionally, it’s relevant to note that not all streaming audiences are created equally. Diesel Lab data shows that some streaming services’ subscribers are more likely to have an affinity for theatrical style movies. Apple TV+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video are among the top platforms to have an audience looking for cinematic experiences, while platforms like Hulu and Netflix may attract more of an episodic-centric audience.

Overall, knowing their audience and strategically timing releases are main factors in keeping streaming services afloat during this shifting digital landscape.

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