Disney makes the trend clear: Growth is slowing for streaming services

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Disney’s earnings report Wednesday told a familiar story for its streaming service, Disney+: Subscriber counts are still growing, but the growth is slowing.

Disney announced added 2.1 million subscribers for its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 2. That’s down from 12.6 million added the previous quarter.

Slowing growth was also the story at AT&T’s WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS. NBCUniversal’s Peacock added “a few million more subscribers” but didn’t reveal a new figure.

Only Netflix bounced back this quarter, reporting 4.4 million subscriber net additions compared to just 1 million adds in its second quarter. Netflix is expecting an even bigger bounce next quarter, forecasting 8.5 million new subscribers on the strength of “Squid Game” and other buzzy content coming to the service before year end, including “Tiger King 2.”

The slowing growth among most streaming services may suggest pandemic gains are waning as more people return to outside activities and out-of-home work.

Still, the general trend of linear TV cancellations and streaming signups appears to be continuing. Disney, WarnerMedia and AMC Networks all reaffirmed previous full-year and future year forecasts. And while pandemic gains may have slowed, production slowdowns and shutdowns have also ended, which will lead to a surge of new content for all of the streaming services.

Determining who is winning and losing the game isn’t easy. A simple way to gauge that is by looking at total subscribers and average revenue per user, or ARPU. But not every company reveals those numbers.

Here’s a rundown of where all the major streaming services stand after reporting earnings for the calendar third quarter:

Netflix

  • 214 million global paying subscribers (up about 4.4 million from last quarter)
  • 74.02 million subscribers in U.S. and Canada (up 0.07 million)
  • Average revenue per unit, or ARPU, for U.S. and Canada: $14.68 (up $0.14)

Netflix continues to outpace the rest of the streaming world with total global subscribers and clear regional transparency around paying customers and ARPU. It bounced back in Q3, adding 4.4 million global subscribers after just 1 million the previous quarter.

Disney

  • Disney+, including Hotstar: 118.1 million subscribers, $4.12 global ARPU (up about 2.1 million from last quarter)
  • Hulu subscription video on demand, or SVOD, only: 39.7 million subscribers, $12.75 ARPU (up about 600,000)
  • Hulu SVOD+Live TV: 4 million subscribers, $84.89 ARPU (up about 300,000)
  • ESPN+: 17.1 million subscribers, $4.74 ARPU (up 2.2 million)

Amazon Prime Video

Apple

NBCUniversal’s Peacock

  • 54 million “sign-ups” as of July (no update in 3Q)
  • ARPU: ?
  • Three tiers: Free with commercials, $4.99 a month for fewer ads and more content, $9.99 a month ad-free

Comcast’s NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, did not share an updated sign-ups number for Peacock, though NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during an earnings call that the streaming service “added a few million more subs” during Q3. The company has not released an official figure for ARPU, but NBCUniversal estimated last year that Peacock would deliver a combined $6 to $7 a month among its three tiers.

WarnerMedia’s HBO and HBO Max

ViacomCBS

Discovery

The majority of Discovery’s 20 million subscribers are from flagship product Discovery+, though Discovery doesn’t break out a specific figure. Other Discovery streaming products include Eurosport Player and GolfTV.

Starz

AMC Networks

  • Total subscribers: ?
  • ARPU: ?

AMC Networks did not share subscriber numbers but reaffirmed that it’s on target to reach 9 million paid subscribers by the end of the year, a statement it first made in August. AMC Networks expects to have 20 million to 25 million subscribers by 2025.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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