Streaming service cancelations are on the rise — here's what I'd keep

Computer with logo: Netflix , HBO MAX, APPLE TV PLUS, NETFLIX, PRIME VIDEO are online video streaming services
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is the streaming bubble popping? A new report on streaming service cancelations seems to match everything we've been thinking about the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and Prime Video as of late. And it seems that Disney Plus is the biggest streaming service that people are canceling.

Not that we're saying you should cancel all three, which are some of the best streaming services right now, but that each service is falling on the chopping block for some. For example, I canceled Netflix in February and came back about two months later to binge the adventures of Jimmy McGill so I could be caught up for Better Call Saul season 6.

This is called churning, as I'm going in and out of Netflix, in a sort of pattern. It makes subscription revenue streams less stable for companies, and they don't exactly like it. In fact, Netflix just announced that it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter, and Netflix expects to lose a huge 2 million subscribers before July. In fact, Netflix's troubles may trigger ads and account sharing. And while the streamer is only talking about those options, there's another Netflix nuclear option we're considering.

That said, Netflix seems to have cornered the market on true crime and documentaries, and the latest No. 1 Netflix movie is another in the latter, highlighting the controversies of Abercrombie & Fitch. Sports docs, such as the Man In The Arena: Tom Brady finale are arguably the one area that Netflix isn't killing it in.

In particular, this report from research firm Kantar (opens in new tab) highlights four services that saw "significant jumps in churn rates quarter on quarter." The firm argues that this indicates "inflation is top of consumers’ minds, with 1/3 of those who cancelled an SVoD service in the quarter saying it was ‘to save money’, a jump from 28% the previous quarter."

Also, we should note that this study and survey is specifically focused on audiences in Great Britain (where the Fury vs Whyte live stream is taking place), but none of it reads like it couldn't be happening in any other country. This may be why HBO Max isn't brought up, but maybe that streaming service's shows are too good to lose members. Right now, HBO Max's the place to watch We Own This City online, oh and all that demand for Our Flag Means Death season 2 shows that that service is onto something.

The streaming services people are canceling

According to Kantar, households in Great Britain have increased churn on four services in particular. Those services are Disney Plus, NOW (a premium streaming service from the U.K.'s Sky broadcaster, which includes popular TV shows, movies and live sports, at varying price points), Discovery Plus and BritBox (a British TV service that my parents, who may cancel Netflix, love). 

While I can't speak to NOW's content (and I haven't ever felt a need to sign up for Discovery Plus or BritBox), I do understand the Disney Plus call, to a degree. Brits don't have Hulu, the one streaming service I recommended folks cancel for April 2022, but some of Hulu's programming is built into the Star Channel on Disney Plus

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Hulu has mostly been great for me when I want to watch Abbott Elementary, the sitcom with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. But its new releases for April seemed paltry unless you care about keeping up with The Kardashians on their new home, or a lot of children's content. 

And then there's Moon Knight, the big Disney Plus show of the moment, which is getting a mixed reception. I love it, as I explained in my Moon Knight review, but my colleague Rory Mellon isn't digging this archeological adventure.

(L to R) Khloé Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian in key art for The Kardashians

(Image credit: Hulu)

This activity comes in tandem with the number of households with at least one streaming subscription in Great Britain falling. The study notes 1.51 million services were canceled in the first quarter of 2022, a rise of almost 50% from the previous quarter (1.04 million) and up 310,000 from this time last year.

Oh, and note that while there was a rise of about a half-million cancelations, realize that the study also says "more than half a million cancellations were attributed to 'money saving.'"

Streaming services to keep (or come back to) now

People are keeping Netflix and Prime Video according to Kantar, and I'm not shocked. While Netflix seems like a necessary utility to many (a line I got from Paul Dergarabedian at ComScore), with Prime Video you stick around because you have Amazon Prime. 

But Netflix's upcoming Spring and Summer lineups look strong. Russian Doll season 2 (April 20) blazes up this week, while Grace and Frankie season 7 and Ozark season 4 both conclude on April 29. Although, it's not all good news at Netflix, as the streamer just confirmed it has canceled an exciting animated show before it even got the chance to air a single episode. 

Natasha Lyonne and Annie Murphy in Russian Doll season 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

And after you're done watching all of that? Stranger Things season 4 arrives in two batches, on May 27 and July 1. Then, Umbrella Academy season 4 has a release date of June 22, followed by the very-interesting looking live-action Resident Evil Netflix series, starring Lance Reddick, which hits on July 14.

And even if you didn't like Moon Knight, I get the impression many will come back to Disney Plus by May 27 for Obi Wan or June 8 for Ms. Marvel. She-Hulk's imposing silhouette also lurks on Disney Plus' horizon. 

Adam Scott as Mark Scout in Severance, at his desk

(Image credit: Apple)

The last service I'd recommend for all — and it is available around the world — is Apple TV Plus. Currently on a tear with the likes of Severance (the best new show of 2022), The Afterparty, Coda, Roar and Slow Horses, Apple's streaming service is about to get even better with the intense-looking Shining Girls starring Elizabeth Moss.

Outlook

That said, all of these decisions are yours to make. My parents are at the edge of their interest with Netflix, and may cancel until Derry Girls season 3 comes to the big red streaming machine.

Just remember to take the time to make sure you're using the services you're paying for. We're in an era of monthly payments, don't live like you're still on annual contracts. I just canceled AMC Plus because it failed to offer me anything I needed that Sling couldn't when it came to Better Call Saul's new season. It's always about "what are you doing for me this month?"

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • DAPetty
    Disney cancelations have nothing to do with budget tightening. Not that I'd expect you to report the obvious when it goes against the narrative.

    I canceled mine because no corporation should feel it has a right to tell parents what their very young children should be taught by professionals who can't seem to act professionally enough to keep their private lives private. This way lies madness and I won't support it.

    I won't support Netflix because their content is 89% trash and their greed is ridiculous. HBO is half decent and prime is unavoidable.

    I guarantee I'm just one of many.
    Reply
  • Atmos Fan
    I agree. Parents are fed up with Disney's attack on children and the traditional family. Unfortunately, they are no longer in the quality entertainment business.

    Netflix has a few good offerings and does a decent job with 4k and Dolby Atmos, but you have to wade through a ton of unusual foreign stuff along with imdb under 4.0 rated content. Their thumbs up and down rating is useless. Highest cost isn't helping them either.

    Agree about HBO and Prime. The BEST platform streaming for movies is the CRITERION CHANNEL! Some of the best movies ever made and it's only $100/yr. ($8.33/mo).

    I do wish one of the services would focus more on offering 4k and Dolby Atmos versions of good movies. That is worth spending a bit extra on.
    Reply
  • DAPetty
    Atmos Fan said:
    I agree. Parents are fed up with Disney's attack on children and the traditional family. Unfortunately, they are no longer in the quality entertainment business.

    Netflix has a few good offerings and does a decent job with 4k and Dolby Atmos, but you have to wade through a ton of unusual foreign stuff along with imdb under 4.0 rated content. Their thumbs up and down rating is useless. Highest cost isn't helping them either.

    Agree about HBO and Prime. The BEST platform streaming for movies is the CRITERION CHANNEL! Some of the best movies ever made and it's only $100/yr. ($8.33/mo).

    I do wish one of the services would focus more on offering 4k and Dolby Atmos versions of good movies. That is worth spending a bit extra on.

    Couldn't agree more-think we're in the majority on this one.

    However, I know I'm in the minority when I say I'd like to see a streaming service with 3d movies. I love my 3d TV and it's super sad that 3d, being nothing more than a gimmick in most movies, died such a horrible death.
    Reply
  • Atmos Fan
    Interesting! Never watched a 3D TV. I enjoyed 3D since going to St. Paul Federal Savings Bank as a kid to watch Creature from the Black Lagoon. (Effects were great! No idea why they showed movies). I've seen several 3D movies at the theater and unfortunately, wasn't impressed. Prometheus didn't seem to gain anything from 3D. I'll be on the lookout to try the experience sometimes...thank you!
    Reply
  • CJBLV
    I keep
    Tubi
    Pluto TV
    Shout Factory TV
    (Amazon Prime is bundled with my internet and phone)

    If I need to binge on Netflix, or Hulu? It's 1 month and then cancel! I don't do Disney+ for too many reasons (ie such as this greedy Bob Chapek regime!)

    I have zero interest in adding anything else because I don't have the free time to binge watch !
    Reply
  • streamermn
    Pureflix runs about the same rate as Netflix, family friendly and educational.
    Only downside is that it needs to add game console platforms
    Currently I keep: Prime (no brainer), Tubi (free local), Pluto (free), and splurge on Pureflix.
    Gave up Netflix this month due to lack of truly new content that is relaxing to watch.
    Life is chaotic without additional crime stories or movies that I own on DVD.
    Prime also often charges for movies that are old / on DVD or should be free; however its part of prime membership so its kept. I'd say Amazon Prime survives because it is bundled with shopping services.
    Reply