U.S. Streaming Growth Stalls in Q3

(Image credit: Momentive)

LONDON—New research from Kantar indicates that the streaming wars are about to get even hotter as the growth in new subscribers stalled in the third quarter of 2021, when Disney and others reported relatively lackluster sub growth. 

Kantar’s `Q3 Entertainment on Demand Barometer’ found that the proportion of US households who have a video subscription has dropped to 85% (down 1% points from Q2, 2021 and up a modest 2% points from a year earlier in Q3 2021). Overall, there were 109 million households with subscriptions in the U.S. as of September 2021, Kantar reported. 

The video streaming quarter on quarter penetration decline was fueled by a decline of 1.5% points in paid SVOD (Paid Ad-Free Video OnDemand) services. 

FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) and AVOD (Paid Ad-Supported Video on Demand) performed better; 14% access FAST services (up 3% points from Q2 2021) and 21% access AVOD (up 0.8% points from Q2).

Overall, 4.5 million consumers cancelled subscriptions in Q3 2021 (including those who had multiple subscriptions and remain in the streaming category), Kantar said. But of those 4.5 million cancelled, 85%, or 3.8 million were among consumers who had only 1 subscription in Q2 2021 and no subscriptions in Q3 2021.   

Across platforms, Amazon Prime Video accounted for the bulk of penetration declines, losing 2 percentage points in penetration in one quarter. This comes after Amazon Prime Video accounted for the largest share of new subscriptions in Q2 2021, driven by Prime Day. Among the group who had one subscription in Q2 2021 and cancelled in Q3 2021, 69% had an Amazon Prime Video subscription in Q2 2021.

Kantar also reported wins for Live Pay TV (Cable TV or MVPD+) in Q3 2021, with the households with Live Pay Only (no Streaming) up to 10% in Q3 2021 (compared to 9% Q2 2021).  

Similarly households with both Live Pay TV and Streaming are up to 51% in Q3 2021, from 50% in Q2 2021. 

This jibes with reports that cord cutting slowed in Q3 2021 (opens in new tab)

Meanwhile Streaming Only (AVOD, SVOD, or FAST) is down 2.2% points.

Despite the decline in overall streaming, stacking continues to grow among those still in the market, the Kantar data showed. 

Across total streaming, the average subscriber now has 4.2 Streaming subscriptions, up from 3.8 in Q2 2021. The more mature platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu continue to hold subscribers who are less likely to stack subscriptions, and stacking growth among these consumers is slower than the total market.

That means, Kantar said, newer competitors launching into video streaming may find that competing with the mature platforms will be more of a challenge. 

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.