On Wednesday, Parrot Analytics posted their quarterly report card on the streaming industry. Five of the companies — Netflix, Disney (Disney+ and Hulu), Warner Bros Discovery (Max), Paramount Global (Paramount+) and NBCUniversal (Peacock) are publicly traded and share data. The parent companies behind two others, AppleTV+ and Amazon Prime Video, do not report subscriber numbers. Parrot has their own way of measuring audience demand for the last two. All together, their analysis offers a peek into how the main players continue to jockey for power now that their business models are veering more towards ad supported lower-cost tiers. They also provide their own insights into who is best positioned to weather a long creative artists labor strike.
Survey says that Netflix is still out in front of all streaming services with 238.4 million subscribers worldwide, up from 220.7 one year earlier and with a gain of almost six million subs in the past quarter alone.
“Netflix has pulled a complete 180 compared to where it was in the middle of 2022,” concluded Parrot. A year ago, the streaming giant saw its share price plummet after registering its first reversals in terms of subscription growth. Parrot credited the crackdown in password sharing as well as the introduction of a cheaper, ad-supported tier with sparking the turnaround.
While Netflix, with its massive library of originals and acquired programming, remains the biggest entertainment company, Parrott wondered how it will weather a long strike by writers and actors. Sure, they’re already stockpiling and releasing more foreign-language comedies and dramas, but will consumers bail when new seasons of favourite shows such as Wednesday, Stranger Things and Emily in Paris are delayed?
Losing ground this past quarter is Disney. Their 3Q 2023 tally of 146.1 million world wide subscribers has them in second place overall. Their subscriber base slid, however, by 11.7 million subscribers in just in the past quarter alone and 16 million over two quarters.
What happened? Demand for original content went down in the last few quarters at Disney. Parrot suggests recent offerings in the Star Wars and Marvel franchises have not matched the highs of earlier series. Season 3 of The Mandalorian and the recent season debut of Secret Invasion performed “well enough,” according to Parrot. The looming combination of Disney+ and Hulu under one roof should help balance out Disney’s offer to subscribers beyond their tentpole brands.
Parrot noted that, if you combined catalog demand for Disney+ and Hulu in the last quarter, it would top even that of Netflix. Only available in the US, Hulu has such hot shows as The Bear and Only Murder in the Building.
Warner Bros Discovery’s Max tallied 95.8 million subscribers in the last quarter, down from 97.8 three months earlier. The home of HBO ranked fifth in new subscribers and seventh in originals demand share.
Parrot suggests Max is best positioned to weather a long work stoppage due to the high percentage of Discovery “strike proof” non-scripted nature shows such as “Shark Week” offerings.
Paramount+, a sponsor here at brioux.tv, is in third place in terms of “corporate demand share.” It benefitted from the decision to move Showtime under the streaming banner and now tallies 61 million subscribers, up from 43 million one year earlier.
Moving forward, Parrot sees Paramount+ also benefitting from CBS’s massive rights deal with the NFL. Pro football returns in September just as the lack of new scripted content will impact all of television. In another savvy move, CBS and Paramount+ will start rerunning episodes of Yellowstone in September. That series is currently lifting streaming rival Peacock but CBS Paramount owns it and can rerun it all they want, which is what they want. Jacking Survivor — still a top-10 in-demand hit world wide — to 90 minutes a week this fall will also help Paramount outplay the competition.
Speaking of Peacock, the NBCUniversal service has 24 million subscribers, well back of the Big Four but up from 13 million a year ago. Yellowstone has been a big draw (although that asset will flip to Paramount post-first run), and so has Poker Face as well as a steady stream of theatricals such as The Super Mario Bros Movie, Fast X and Cocaine Bear. Oppenheimer will also help.
Judged on limited data, Amazon’s Prime Video ranks second in originals demand share, behind only Netflix but ahead of Disney, Apple and the others. They got there mainly by licensing plenty of content from other studios, a pipeline that should remain open as studios look to continue to seek revenues beyond their own platforms. Paying big for Thursday Night Football and acquiring MGM should keep their content doors open during the strike.
AppleTV+ is now the third most in-demand streaming service in original content thanks to strong quarter results from the conclusion of Ted Lasso as well as the latest hit from Canadian-American Graham Yost, Silo. Parrot notes that AppleTV+ should continue to score thanks to its association with soccer superstar Messi. Through its MLS Season Pass, Apple has exclusive access to one of the most in-demand athletes in the world.
What of Crave? The BellMedia streaming service is not part of Parrot’s analysis. The service will need shields up, however, to weather the loss of most of its Star Trek content as of August first. Bell’s specialty channel CTV Sci-fi, as well as the CTV app and CTV.ca, will continue to boldly show Picard, Discovery and other shows in the Star Trek franchise. Crave also will keep showing Brave New Worlds into the fall, but after that, Bell’s streaming platform will no longer be a federation station.
Another blow is the loss of Showtime content. Crave lost most of those shows when CBSParamount swung Showtime under the Paramount+ roof at the end of 2022. A few Showtime series still in production, such as Yellowjackets and the final season of Billions, remain on Crave.
Crave still has deals with HBO as well as Starz, but the trend of the big US media companies taking back hit shows to bolster their own streaming platforms, together with the US writers and actors strikes, is a double whammy for Crave. The good news? Canadian originals such as Shoresy and other New Metric content such as the soon-to-launch Bria Mack Gets a Life are not affected by the strike actions taken by the US-based acting and writing guilds.
For more on the Parrot 3Q streaming analysis, follow this link.