Analysis: SVoDs take churn revenue hit

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Findings from Wurl Analytics, the research division of streaming TV specialist Wurl, suggest that lost US revenue for four of the top SVoD platforms as a result of churn totalled $80.2 million (€68.1m) in the month of April 2021 alone.

In its first report, Churn Analysis Report 2021, Wurl Analytics uncovers the far-reaching financial impact of churn, both in terms of lost revenue and subscriber acquisition costs.

Looking at estimated lost US revenue, Wurl Analytics calculated that HBO Max lost $33.1 million, Netflix lost $17.3 million, Hulu lost $15.1 million and Disney+ lost $14.7 million in the month of April 2021 alone.

According to Wurl Analytics, churn does not just create a loss of revenue for SVoD platforms. There are also costs incurred when marketing these services to both attract new subscribers and increase engagement from existing subscribers.  In the US alone, the same four services – Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max – collectively spent nearly $50 million in media, but nearly $20 million is attributable to reducing churn. This illustrates just how expensive churn can be: not only in terms of lost revenue, but also the negative return toward total marketing.

Disney+, HBO Max and ViacomCBS experienced monthly churn rates ranging from 2 per cent to 7 per cent. This equates to huge subscriber losses and require substantial investment in both marketing and content to attract new subscribers who will replace lost subscribers, while also reaching publicly-stated growth targets.

To meet their stated goals, large SVoD platforms must add hundreds of millions of subscribers just to replace those that churn. Wurl Analytics estimates that between 2021 and 2024, Disney+ will churn 333.1 million subscribers, requiring it to attract 472.5 million subscribers in order to reach its stated growth target of between 230-260 million global subscribers by the end of 2024. All other SVoD services have similar challenges. For HBO Max to meet its goal of 150 million subscribers after churn, it needs to acquire 302.6 million new subscribers. ViacomCBS’s suite of SVoD services needs 210.4 million additions to hit its goals of 150 million subscribers by 2025 and 70 million subscriber additions to hit its goal of 70 million subscribers by 2024.

“Churn is not a new problem in the video business, of course, but with the advent of streaming services, subscriber churn has escalated and accelerated due to the fact that it is much easier to cancel a streaming subscription than it is to cancel a conventional cable subscription,” notes Sean Doherty Jr., Head of Wurl Analytics. “With this report, we are providing a snapshot of the actual financial impact churn is having on streamers. It is the first of several reports Wurl Analytics will publish each year aimed at providing the streaming TV business with valuable data insights to help inform better business and marketing decisions.”


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