Not All Streaming Services Will Survive the Year in Their Current Form

Mounting losses at Paramount and NBCUniversal, particularly, have put into doubt the survival of Paramount+ and Peacock in their current iteration, especially Paramount+.

In the latest reporting period, Paramount lost over $500 million directly related to its direct-to-consumer streaming division. After its stock collapsed over 50% last year, rumors have swirled about a possible activist investor swooping in to rescue the company from a lost decade of mismanagement.

While all streaming services experience some level of subscriber churn, Paramount+ and Showtime have consistently ranked high in the top three, along with Starz, for churn rates among streaming services in the last year. The churn rates are stark compared to low-churn services of Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.

Paramount’s situation reflects the broader challenges of balancing growth, content spending, and subscriber retention with profitability in the streaming industry.

Disney+ and Netflix Open Advertising Floodgates

Unlike subscription giants Peacock and Paramount+, which have long embraced advertising given their legacy advertising business model, Disney+ and Netflix are just beginning down this path.

Netflix’s introduction of an ad-supported tier marks a significant shift in its business model. This shift is aimed at broadening its subscriber base and diversifying revenue streams.

Netflix’s ad-supported tier has seen a nearly 70% increase in membership quarter-over-quarter, accounting for about 30% of all new sign-ups.

Netflix’s continued pledges for greater transparency in viewership data would signal a move toward industry standardization for streaming platforms, mirroring traditional television ratings and box office metrics that aim to provide a clearer picture of content performance. By offering more detailed viewership insights, Netflix could address the demands of creators, advertisers, and investors for more accurate and accessible data. Don’t hold your breath.

Disney+ and Netflix are slowly navigating the nascent subscription streaming advertising market for their highly popular platforms. Currently, Disney+ and Netflix have far fewer ad-supported viewers when compared with longstanding subscription services like Peacock and Paramount+.

However, projections indicate a substantial upsurge in ad-supported viewership for both Netflix and Disney+ in the forthcoming year. Anticipate an impressive 69.7% surge in ad-supported viewers for Netflix, while Disney+ is forecasted to experience a notable 45.1% increase.

These figures signify not just outstanding growth but a pivotal shift in the strategies of these streaming behemoths as they adapt to changing market dynamics, throwing viewer preferences overboard.

Worldwide Film & Television Distribution Intelligence

Get unparalleled access to market intelligence reports that draw on financial data and insights from dozens of content distribution deals worldwide between key industry participants, including — Distributors, Producers, MPVDs, and Streaming Exhibitors.

Film and Series distribution rates and terms deriving from dozens of agreements for rights to transmit films and episodic television via PayTV and SVOD.

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Licensing Terms & Included Programs:

Pay-1 & SVOD Rate Cards for Motion Pictures and Series Exhibited Worldwide in Multiple Availability Windows

  • Motion Pictures: Pay-1, First Run, Second Window Features, Recent Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Current and Premium Made-For-TV Films and Direct-To-Video Films, covering many license periods over the last decade
  • Episodic TV: Current, Premium, Premium Catalog (1HR & 1/2HR), Catalog Series (1HR & 1/2HR), and Catalog Miniseries + Case Studies on Current Mega Hit, Catalog Mega Hit, and Premium Catalog, covering many licensing terms from 2012-2024
  • Because most-favored-nation rates operate in practice, the rates and terms apply to a diverse range of content and distributors worldwide in multiple availability windows.

Not All Streamers Are Created Equal

In the realm of streaming advertising, a historical hierarchy comprising three tiers has long prevailed in the United States:

  1. Top premium ad-supported platforms like Hulu, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, and the more recent entrants Netflix and Disney+ hold the top tier.
  2. Connected televisions such as Roku and Samsung, along with free ad-supported streaming or FAST services like Paramount’s Pluto TV and Fox’s Tubi, constituted the middle tier.
  3. Essentially, every other ad-supported streaming service with sizable subscribers forms a diverse third tier.

However, the landscape has undergone a restructuring, especially at the apex tier, which has fragmented into smaller segments. Advertising agency executives have reserved the uppermost echelon for Hulu, with a tentative spot for Prime Video pending its scaling projections.

While Hulu retains its top position, Peacock closely follows, according to some agency executives, marking a shift in the hierarchy. However, opinions diverge regarding the placement of Disney+ and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, with some slotting them into the second premium tier due to their premium content offerings and the support from their parent companies.

Netflix and Paramount’s Paramount+ are transitional between the second and third premium tiers. Netflix boasts premium programming but faces challenges with its smaller ad-supported audience and higher ad prices. Paramount+, despite offering premium content, the streamer struggles to match the attention garnered by its competitors.

Amidst these dynamics, Apple TV+ is the sole general-audience offering without advertising, highlighting the evolving, some say devolving, landscape of streaming services.

However, many challenges persist, including measurement inconsistencies and budget volatility, which could impact the streaming advertising market. Despite this, streaming ad prices remain relatively high compared to linear television, potentially offsetting some of the challenges facing advertisers.

Currently, the streaming advertising ecosystem is undergoing significant shifts and challenges as established players jostle for dominance and newer entrants navigate the complexities of the market.

FilmTake Away: Introducing Advertising Indicates Trouble Ahead

The collective introduction of advertising across several leading streaming services points to rough seas ahead as customers cut back while content licensing prices soar.

More troubling, global net additions across all U.S. SVOD services turned negative recently for the first time. While the domestic market has been flat and slowing, unexpected declines in several international markets are more troubling since many streamers are pinning their future growth hopes on years of sustained additions abroad.