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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"