Millions subscribed in streaming services this year, but will the steam fizzle out?
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Streaming platforms have had quite the year in the midst of a pandemic. As the world endured lockdowns and health precautions, millions subscribed to online streaming platforms. However, Deloitte Global predicts that in 2022, “at least 150 million paid subscriptions to streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services will be canceled worldwide, with churn rates of up to 30% per market.”
Catie Keck is a staff writer at The Verge who covers streaming and entertainment news. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Keck about how streaming services fared this year and what’s to come of it moving forward. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Kimberly Adams: So, recap for me how streaming services fared in 2021?
Catie Keck: Well, streaming services did exceptionally well during the pandemic. Viewership was up across the board. You know, with so much uncertainty around COVID, streaming sort of offered this short-term solution for entertainment and in ways that other things that we normally do in our day-to-day lives could not, especially as we’ve seen more and more films that were intended for a theatrical debuting on streaming services instead.
Adams: With so many people streaming so much content right now, there is such competition for people’s time and eyeballs, how have you seen these various platforms and content producers adjusting to that in the pandemic?
Keck: Sure, well, content is king. If you want people to spend time on your service, and investment in original programming is absolutely essential. You know, Netflix and streaming services operate in a way where they’re not just competing with each other, they’re very much competing with literally any other thing that we could be doing, whether that’s sleeping or taking a walk around the block or playing video games — I mean, all of these extra hours in our day. That’s what they’re really fighting for is peak engagement, you know, so to speak. Original programming is really the hook.
Adams: Deloitte says in 2022, at least 150 million streaming service subscriptions are going to get canceled worldwide. How do those cancellations factor into this ongoing competition landscape in the streaming world?
Keck: Well, one of the things that industry sort of experts are theorizing is that there is far too much choice right now, there are too many services. So, we’re likely going to see sort of your WarnerMedia Discovery-type deals happening more and more, or the services are simply going to shut down because it’s not sustainable for legacy media companies to be throwing millions and millions of dollars at a streaming service that is not retaining and not attracting subscribers when they’re competing with the Netflix’s and the Disney+’s. And you know, the Hulu’s — these companies are just too big. So, you know, most people will likely have a core streaming service, like a Netflix or a Disney+, and then you know, maybe one or two others, but none of us are going to subscribe to every streaming service moving forward. I mean, it’s just not tenable.
Adams: And real quick, how many streaming services do you subscribe to?
Keck: Entirely too many. Probably at least a couple dozen.
Adams: But it’s for work.
Keck: But it’s for work, yeah. And I have to regularly sort of reconnect with everyone and make sure that my subscription has not lapsed. But yes, it’s for work.
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