‘Subscriptions stacking’ and ads are the path to growth in US streaming market

Dramas accounted for 8 of 10 top titles watched in the past 3 months among SVoD subscribers, despite fewer streamers claiming to enjoy them.
23 April 2024
Woman watching a movie in her tablet
hannah avery

Client Manager, ComTech, Worldpanel Division

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Worldpanel’s latest Entertainment on Demand (EoD) data on the US streaming market uncovers the following behaviours within the Video on Demand (VoD) market between January to March 2024:

  • Although, the household penetration rate in the US is stagnating, at near universal levels, (reaching 95% of, or 123M, US households, only growing 0.1% quarter-on-quarter), the average number of paid services accessed per household continues to rise, with US households now subscribing to 3.9 paid services on average.
  • Apple TV+ and Peacock saw the greatest absolute growth in subscriber share over the quarter among paid VoD competitors, aided by new release films and sports.
  • Prime Video was the sole VoD service to have significant declines in market share in Q1’24, as holiday growth in Q4 typically results in cancellations in Q1, and the introduction of ads fuelled cancellations.
  • Reacher on Prime Video was the most watched title in Q1’24 among all paid streamers (ad-free or ad-supported), followed by NCIS, available on several SVoD services, and Yellowstone on Peacock.
  • Dramas accounted for 8 of 10 top titles watched in the past 3 months among SVoD subscribers, despite fewer streamers claiming to enjoy dramas in Q1’24 than Q1’23.
  • Disney+ has dropped out of the top 5 services chosen to discover new content, dropping below Paramount+ and Peacock in Q1’23.

US EoD Q2 2024 graph

Originals driving new subscriptions, but not engagement

Originals and films still pay an important role in driving sign ups to VoD services. Half of all new Apple TV+ subscriptions were driven by specific titles, led by Apple TV+ originals “Ted Lasso” and “Masters of the Air”, and film “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Beyond new sign-ups, streaming originals and films faced challenges in Q1’24.

In the first quarter of 2024, US streamers reported enjoying long-running TV dramas over originals. Prime Video’s “Reacher” and Netflix’s “The Crown”, “Griselda” and “Fool Me once” were the only originals cited as one of the top 10 most viewed titles in Q1. Instead, titles like “NCIS”, “Chicago Fire” and even “Suits” were among the top viewed titles in the first quarter.

There is a clear pattern of dramas and crime series rising in popularity in the US. As these long-running, easily bingeable drama series gain in popularity, it is harder for streaming originals and films to compete for screen time. Looking at the top 20 most cited titles viewed in Q1, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are the only films to make the list.

This shift towards single genre dominance is reflected in the number of genres US streamers report enjoying. Over time, streamers are reporting that they enjoy fewer genres. Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thrillers, and Action & Adventure are the top 3 genres losing the interest of streamers in the last year, signalling genre fatigue of these prominent titles that fall under these genres.

Prime Video navigates ads & initial losses

Q1 is typically a quarter of increased churn for Prime Video. Increases in subscriptions around the holidays results in churn in the following months. This year in Q1, Prime Video also introduced ads to all subscribers. Subscribers now have the option to opt out of ads for an additional fee of $2.99 per month. After ads were introduced in January, Prime Video lost 3% of their subscriber base, a significant increase from typical Q1 churn. Subscribers reporting dissatisfaction with the amount of ads shown has nearly doubled in the last quarter.

The cyclical growth and churn model of Amazon tends to pay off for Prime Video. Despite subscribers shrinking by 3% in Q1’24, Prime Video has netted growth compared to its pre-holiday Q3’23 size. Among remaining subscribers, advocacy for Prime Video, measured by its Net Promoter Score (NPS), has risen. Prime Video’s NPS is now second only to Netflix among paid competitors. Among Prime Video subscribers with at least one additional streaming subscription, a greater proportion rank Prime Video as their #1 most important service in Q1’24 than did in Q4’23.

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