With recession fears growing by the day and inflation raging for months, people seem to be looking for ways to save money. They may have found one by shutting down their streaming services.
The latest edition of Attest’s quarterly media consumption survey, a consumer research platform, found subscription TV services declined from October through December.
Just over 15% of Americans now say they don’t use TV subscription services. That is 2.8 percentage points more than in October 2022.
Attest said in a press release that the decline could be due to rising costs of living, which are forcing Americans to make tough decisions about where to spend their money. Record inflation rates, which are finally beginning to fall, have fueled spending on groceries, rent and utilities over the past year.
That means they can’t afford all the extras they got used to when the economy was in better shape and their pre-pandemic dollars could go farther.
Of course, other factors could also affect the numbers. With Covid lockdowns and long-term quarantines largely a thing of the past, people are no longer trapped in their homes and are starving for entertainment, sparking a big surge in subscriptions to top streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ at the start of the pandemic.
Also, streaming subscriptions can be cyclical, with people subscribing when a show they want to watch becomes available and later dropping those subscriptions.
Attest found that weekly users were down overall for most subscription services, with Disney+ seeing the greatest success. Those who used the service at least once a week dropped 5.4% to 32.3% of respondents.
Hulu (down 4.6%) and YouTube (down 3.9%) also suffered bigger drops in weekly users than other services. AppleTV+, which launched in early 2022, has seen its numbers drop, although again that could be down to programming; The streamer had a few other high-profile firsts in the first half of the year.
Netflix (which just launched a new hit with That ’90s show) and Amazon Prime also saw slight declines but remained the top streaming platforms even as they looked for new ways to differentiate themselves. Netflix was also boosted by its new ad-supported tier.
A winner in the fourth quarter doldrums? Peacock. The service, which saw big gains in subscribers during its most recent period of gains, increased weekly users by 3.4 percentage points.
And Paramount+, which according to the poll had the most popular show of the quarter yellowstone and also premiered Top Gun: Mavericksaw a very small increase in weekly users.
Interestingly, subscription streaming wasn’t the only medium to see a decline in users in the fourth quarter. The problem plagued multiple media outlets including social media, audio and news platforms. So it’s possible that people were just feeling burnt out from media of all kinds, or that they had to hit their internal reset buttons.