Streaming Fatigue: 39% Cancel Subscriptions and 55% Join New Services

Alex Kerai
Mar 28, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

The last year has seen the launch of major series The Last of Us and Poker Face along with the return of juggernauts Ted Lasso and You—all of which appear across multiple major streaming platforms. But with rising inflation contributing to elevated household costs, many Americans want to simplify their viewing experience.

We surveyed 1,000 Americans to gauge their streaming habits and found that over 1 in 3 have canceled a streaming service subscription in the past six months, with most respondents citing a need to cut back on monthly expenses. That’s even higher than our rate last year when we found that 25% of Americans were planning to leave Netflix.

So, is subscriber churn going to burst the streaming bubble? Let’s dive in and find out.

REV Streaming Habits Onsite 01

Viewers are subscribing to fewer streaming services

In the past year, Americans have seen their expenses increase by 6%, according to the Consumer Price Index, while our research shows that six of the major streaming services increased their prices by an average of 25%. That’s a major price difference!

So, when 39% of Americans reported canceling a streaming service subscription in the past six months, we found that 44% of respondents canceled a subscription to cut back on monthly expenses.

  • Respondents told Reviews.org they estimate their average streaming budget is close to $20-$30 per month, which doesn’t cover the cost of more than two services without ads.

Money wasn’t the only consideration when canceling a subscription. We found that over 1 in 2 of our respondents canceled because they don't use the platform or the show they want to watch isn't there anymore.

  • Basically, they are contributing to subscriber churn and only staying subscribed during the 12 weeks Ted Lasso is airing.

The other big change is in how many services Americans subscribe to. Your favorite shows may be spread across five different streaming platforms, but the average American subscribes to only two streaming services.

A plurality of consumers (43%) say that Netflix is the streaming service they simply cannot live without.

  • Hulu came in second with 33% of the vote while Peacock hit 26%.

However, Netflix was also the most canceled service among Americans: 21% of respondents reported unsubscribing in the last six months.

  • Other streaming services weren’t spared either: 20% canceled Hulu, 14% canceled Peacock, and 13% canceled Max.
  • This number is close to our fall 2022 report, which found that 25% of Netflix subscribers were planning to unsubscribe in the next year.

It’s not all bad news: 55% of Americans joined a new streaming service in the past six months. But, as you’ll see below, the constant unsubscribing and joining a new service contributes to subscriber churn.

Subscriber churn is real

You may be wondering “What is subscriber churn?”

Basically, subscriber churn is when people cancel—or add and then cancel—a paid streaming service like Netflix or Max, which tends to happen when shows viewers want to watch are newly available.

For example, if you watched The Last of Us on Max but aren’t interested in anything else, then you may cancel the service until season 2 arrives. But streaming services want you to stay and try to promote related content, which leads to articles like “10 Things You Should Watch If You Loved You.”

While subscriber churn is losing streaming services a third of their subscribers each year, Nielsen has found that streaming still remains the dominant TV platform with around 37.2% of the market share over the last six months.

  • Cable TV, however, is close behind with 30.6% of the market share.

With rising monthly subscription costs for streaming services, does it make sense to go back to cable?

Are there too many streaming services?

Honestly, yes—there are too many to count! Some streamers have taken notice: Paramount+ is merging with its sister network Showtime to create one unified platform, The Hollywood Reporter announced, while the Disney Bundle offers Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ at a lower monthly rate than Hulu without ads. While only Quibi has folded since launching, the coming year could be a test for Hulu, Peacock, and Paramount+, especially as free streaming services offer cost-conscious viewers a cheaper option.

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Password sharing crackdown

Netflix, on the other hand, has begun cracking down on password sharing and requiring customers to pay extra to share their password or subscribe with a separate account.

  • The rule would apply to password sharing outside of the household and has not been launched in the U.S. yet.
  • We put together a guide to help you out.

The crackdown may actually hurt Netflix’s business model considering 2 in 5 Americans share streaming service logins with people outside of their households.

While other services haven’t announced their own crackdown yet, it may be coming …

  • A report from Vulture found that only Max discourages password sharing outside of the household.

Over 85% of Americans share their password to Netflix with other people. It is by far the most shared service.

  • 51% of Americans share their password for Hulu.
  • Amazon Prime Video (44%), Max (36%), and Peacock (26%) are the next most shared platforms.
  • Paramount+ and Apple TV+ account for less than 25% of password sharing.
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We found that a plurality (27%) of our respondents give their streaming passwords to friends.

  • That percentage is closely followed by parents (26%) who receive streaming passwords from their children.
  • Our respondents said that 18% of them share passwords with romantic partners and only 9% share streaming services with roommates.
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Would viewers really want to subscribe to another streaming service if they’re already tired of all their subscriptions? We won’t know until the password-sharing crackdown hits the U.S.

  • While Netflix is the service many can’t live without, it’s also the one people canceled the most in the last six months.

Recap

In the last six months, 39% of Americans have canceled streaming service subscriptions and 55%  have joined new services. This is all part of subscription churn as viewers try to save money due to rising streaming service costs.

American TV watchers are tired of having to find their favorite shows spread over a dozen different streaming services, and having to shell out hundreds of dollars a year when a streaming bundle was supposed to save them money.

Now, viewers are canceling subscriptions and reevaluating how they want to watch streaming TV in the future.

Methodology

Reviews.org surveyed 1,000 Americans in February 2023 16 years and older with a +/- 4% margin of error and a confidence level of 95%. Respondents were asked about their activity on streaming service subscriptions over the past 6 months prior to taking the survey.

Our data on streaming service price increases was compiled from Apple TV+, ESPN+, Disney+, Max, Hulu, and Netflix websites, looking at January 2022 to February 2023.

Alex Kerai
Written by
Alex Kerai
Alex began writing for student newspapers and has managed to turn that into a career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he wrote about small businesses for Biz2Credit and Business.org. Before that, he spent time in communications for higher education institutions, created marketing materials for nonprofits, and worked for entertainment companies in Los Angeles. Today, he reports on emerging consumer trends and his work can be seen on The Penny Hoarder, Business.org, Move.org, WhistleOut.com, CableTV.com, SafeWise.com, HighSpeedInternet.com, and SatelliteInternet.com. When he's not writing, Alex watches too much TV, plays guitar, reads and writes fiction, and goes on nature walks.

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