The 2021 Streaming Report Cards Are In
Happy Monday War & Peaceniks, and welcome to Streamland!
My friends at Antenna just issued their Year In Streaming report for 2021, and there’s a ton of fascinating data wrapped inside a crunchy statistical candy shell. Before I unwrap some of it for you, it’s useful to note the methodology Antenna employs to collect their user data.
“Antenna receives raw transaction data on millions of US consumers. The data is privacy compliant, as users explicitly agree to share their data and profiles are anonymized. Antenna processes the raw data by adding metadata and modeling in order to report on key subscription metrics such as Sign-ups, Subscribers, Churn Rate and more.”
- Antenna 2021 Year In Streaming
This is not a self-reported panel, or a user survey. Antenna collects millions of raw, anonymized transaction data from credit cards and payment apps, and uses that to model out the subscription statistics of the largest SVOD services. Surveys rely on the memory and accuracy of the subjects, and use far smaller samples (in the thousands rather than millions). Conversely, Antenna’s data is truly quantitative, and based on actual behaviors, provided by the permission of the users themselves. This makes their data substantially more accurate.
Which is why I dig it.
Unfortunately, since Amazon wraps their Prime Memberships inside an unbreakable suite of services, Antenna does not include Prime Video in their coverage of Premium SVOD subs. Which is the one reason it makes me sad. Still, this study contains more data points, and therefore more usable data than any other I read, so when they sent me the latest full year report, it was a data nerd Hanukah in March.
Let’s start with the Big Stat, who’s got the lead in the Streaming Wars:
At the end of 2021, there were 194.8 million SVOD subscribers in the US, among the services covered by Antenna’s study - an increase of 26.7% over 2020, and an addition of 42 million new subscribers in the ecosystem.
This chart 👆 tracks the pure share of those subs as of December 2021. No surprise, Netflix leads the pack, by a decent margin. But, as Disney’s quarterly earnings report will tell you, Disney rolls all their subs together. So, when you add Hulu and Disney+, they combine for 27% of SVOD subscribers, a statistical tie with Netflix when you consider ESPN+ is not in this count.
The other surprising data, to me anyway, was the relative strength of Paramount+, with 10% of Premium subs, especially compared to HBOMax at 8%. Giving the artist formerly known as Viacom the same benefit as The Mouse House, adding Showtime to their total sub count, by year end 2021, Paramount had 15% of Premium SVOD subscribers in the US - nearly 2X HBOMax, and by far the most of any of the non-Netflix-non-Disney streamers.
But this 👆 specific stream-measuring contest is the one the rest of the analysts will cover endlessly. IMHO, the juiciest findings about the state of streaming are deeper inside the report, and show not just “how many,” but “WHERE, WHY and HOW” these streamers gets their lifeblood subscribers.
The pure number of total subscribers is, of course, interesting. However, to determine the underlying fundamentals of these businesses, it’s important to look at where their subscribers come from, how much taxes are paid on each sub, what other revenues their users generate, and how long their subs actually stick around.
Here’s what I found:
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