ESG Special: The Stream-Apocalypse is Here!

Disappointing data reveals what's ahead for Hollywood post-pivot to its digital future

Presenting our regular special edition from the all-seeing, Sultan of Statistics, the Entertainment Strategy Guy, our anonymous showbiz data guru and analyst.

The apocalypse has come for streaming. If you’ve been following “earnings season” over the last few weeks, you probably already have seen the grim totals:

• HBO Max: Declined by 1.8 million subscribers in the U.S. last quarter.Disney+:
• Only grew by 2.1 million globally in the last quarter.
• Peacock: Only said they “added a few million more subscribers.” 
• Netflix: Only grew by 70,000 customers in the U.S.

Some of you may say, “Hey wait a minute, everyone except HBO Max grew. And they had a really good excuse, since they left the Amazon Channels ecosystem. Why is this such bad news?”

Well, if you did say that, you don’t follow the stock market. The market loves growth, and nothing has been “growth-ier” than streaming in the last few years. (Fine, Tesla and NFTs are growth-ier. But ignore that.) As “Large Entertainment” companies go all-in on streaming, they need big subscriber growth to help their stock prices. Since Disney+, HBO Max and fellow new streamers failed to deliver big subscriber numbers, all their stocks have for the most part seen downward slides in Wall Street’s version of Chutes and Ladders.

But should we be worried? 

In this case, it’s a matter of expectations versus results. The wild growth of some streamers—like Disney+ and HBO Max—last year led to increased expectations…expectations they were never likely to meet. This quarter is when those expectations came home to roost. 

The Worrying Case for Disney, Netflix and Large Entertainment

My two-year-old loves Sesame Street right now—on a PBS linear broadcast feed, because HBO Max is frustratingly hard to use—so we can give a Sesame Street related answer:

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