Why entertainment expert Eunice Shin is watching streamers’ subscriber churn rates
Earnings season is officially under way, and Eunice Shin has her eye on streaming service owners’ abilities to retain their subscribers.
“In a world where economic uncertainties still exist, where the quality of content continues to be hits-based and a lot of bombs, how are we thinking about churn and how are these streaming platforms keeping the customers they’ve worked so hard to gain in an increasingly competitive and price-competitive world?” said Shin, a partner at strategy consulting firm Prophet who has consulted for companies including Disney, Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal, in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
It’s a big question, made all the more urgent considering the streaming market’s shift in emphasis from subscriber growth to profitability. Following the pandemic-induced streaming subscriber surge, that growth started to slow in 2021 and further in 2022, to the point that Netflix actually shed subscribers. Then, with the economic downturn and looming threat of a potential recession, investors’ pivoted their attentions to how much money companies are spending -- and often, losing -- on their streaming businesses, questioning whether streamers’ subscriber counts justified their programming costs.
Which is why Shin is keeping vigil on streamers’ subscriber churn rates.
“If you think about all of these streamers as they’ve launched -- most of them during the pandemic -- as people have spent a lot of money to acquire these customers, meaning not just marketing dollars but content dollars in content investments to be able to lure people onto those platforms, how are they doing in keeping them.... As much as you think about subscriber growth, if your churn number is high, it’s like one step forward, two steps back,” she said.