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Streaming subscriber growth in US halved last year

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with the Netflix logo lies in front of displayed “Streaming service” words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo  

(Reuters) -Streaming subscriber growth in the United States has halved in 2023, data from research firm Antenna showed, a sign that the boom might be over for the industry in its key market.

Growth in the premium subscription-video-on-demand category slowed to 10.1% last year from 21.6% in 2022. But its overall growth has more than doubled in four years, signaling a steady re-subscription trend.

At the start of the streaming boom, companies focused on pumping money into creating swathes of content to draw and retain subscribers. Customers also signed up to services during the pandemic while homebound with theaters being inaccessible.

But since then and with the twin Hollywood strikes last year, companies have been looking to keep content spend low while also pushing their ad-offerings to draw in revenue.

Streaming giant Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Comcast-owned Peacock and Paramount Global’s Paramount+ drove the most growth, with total subscriptions at 242.9 million at the end of 2023.

The report also indicated a shift in market share among streaming platforms. Netflix, which accounted for nearly half of the subscriptions in 2019, now represents just over a quarter of the market.

Paramount+ surpassed Disney+ in total subscriptions. Peacock and Paramount both saw a slight increase in their market share, while Discovery+, Disney+ and Hulu saw slight declines.

Antenna said streaming was entering a new phase of sobriety.

The previous stage was hyper-focused on acquisition to draw in a mass audience. But now that the largest players have that scale, they must shift their focus to managing their subscribers, it said.

About 30% of gross additions in 2023 were re-subscribes, referring to users who were previously subscribed to and had since canceled that same service within the prior 12 months. Nearly a quarter of the cancels were “won-back” within three months and more than 40% within 12 months, the report said.

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