Every Streamer Has Maxed Out Its U.S. Subscribers — Except These Two
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Every Streamer Has Maxed Out Its U.S. Subscribers — Except These Two

According to a MoffettNathanson report, only two major streaming services still have room to grow in the US — and neither one is Netflix.

Peacock and Paramount+ have quite a bit in common — and we’re not just talking about a hypothetical future in which they’re bundled together.

The NBCUniversal streaming platform, launched in 2020, and the core Paramount Global streaming service, rebranded from CBS All Access in 2021, are the only two major streaming platforms that have not yet fully matured in the U.S., according to a MoffettNathanson report using data from market research firm HarrisX.

Why those two? Even though only one of them is named after a bird, Peacock and Paramount+ are birds of a feather. Paramount+ has an ad-supported option and an ad-free tier; Peacock has those too, as well as a very limited fully free plan. (Successful FAST service Pluto TV occupies the free-streaming space at Paramount Global.)

Peacock and Paramount+ both have libraries fueled by a highly successful broadcast network — NBC and CBS, respectively — as well as a slew of strong cable channels (USA, Syfy, Bravo, etc. for Peacock; the “Viacom” channels for Paramount+). Both of the SVOD/AVOD hybrid services also rely on kids and sports programming.

None of that really explains why these two have room to grow their subscriber platforms in the states, but we can: the mere fact that they’re relatively late entrants to the streaming game has left that door open for each. We didn’t say it was a great door, but at least they have some reason for optimism.

For Top 4 streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+, the “penetration rate” (the number of subscribers divided by the size of the available market) remained flat through third quarter of 2022. Paramount+ and Peacock each grew by 100 basis points (1 percent). HBO Max’s penetration shrank by the same number.

NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell revealed recently that Peacock topped 15 million paid subscribers in Q3 2022, up from 13 million at the end of the prior quarter. Paramount+ ended Q2 2022 with 43 million paid subs. While Paramount has a clear subscriber advantage, NBCU parent company Comcast is the one with the money; there has long been speculation that Comcast may buy the relatively cheap Paramount Global to achieve greater scale. NBC, CBS, and the FCC would be the key barriers to that theoretical merger.

Paramount+ and Peacock were the only platforms to increase their share in the marketplace in the third quarter. They’re also the only ones to exhibit what the analysts called “significant growth” on a year-over-year basis. Paramount+ grew 6 percent from 2021’s third quarter and Peacock grew 5 percent. Hulu grew 3 percent; Disney+ and HBO Max grew by 2 percent apiece; Amazon Prime Video grew 1 percent; Netflix was flat.

That doesn’t mean Netflix had no accomplishments in the September quarter — hell, “Stranger Things 4” debuted the back half of its season in July. The streaming king broke its own record for number of original episodes released in a quarter, according to HarrisX and MoffettNathanson, releasing 1,026 episodes in Q3. That was nearly five times more than anyone else: Amazon Prime Video released 223 episodes in the summer quarter, Hulu released 194.

However, the streamer with the largest viewership gains over the past three months is Fox’s ad-supported service Tubi, which more than doubled its viewership on a year-over-year basis, the researchers wrote. The Roku Channel, with growth of 75 percent, was second.

Pluto and DirecTV Stream increased viewership by 60 percent apiece. The DirecTV streaming service, home to NFL Sunday Ticket, can thank a great start to the NFL season for much of its own increase. With viewership growth of 34 percent, HBO Max was really the only SVOD service to “meaningfully outpace the industry average,” according to MoffettNathanson. Credit there to “Game of Thrones” and its dragon-fire-hot prequel “House of the Dragon.”

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