Why Netflix May Have Spread Out Stranger Things Season 4

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Peter Kafka: Netflix's newest problem: Its newest customers

[B]y the end of April, 23 percent of Americans who signed up for Netflix had dropped the service within a month. That’s more new subscriber cancellations than any other competitive service Antenna tracks — including the likes of Apple TV+ and HBO Max, which used to have higher early churn numbers but have recently improved them.

But also:

The best news for Netflix, which still has some 220 million subscribers — much more than any competitor — is that the longer someone subscribes to Netflix, the more likely they are to keep subscribing. The company’s lifetime churn rate remains better than anyone else — though it has gone up in recent months as well

The Netflix story is full of contradictions like this, and I think it makes it hard for anyone to clearly say whether the company is in a strong or weak position. I'm more bullish on the company than some people, but I also think it's hard to say they're in as strong a place today as they were a couple years ago; the competition has just gotten so much stronger.

I don't have any data to back this up, but I wonder if the release schedule for shows is what makes the difference for first month unsubscribers being higher on Netflix. If you want to keep up with The Mandalorian on Disney+, you gotta subscribe for at least 2 months to watch it as the rest of the world does. Same deal with most things on Apple TV+, Hulu, and HBO Max as well. But Netflix still releases basically all of their shows at once, so you can binge them in a week and cancel without missing the zeitgeist. As a viewer, I've actually come back to preferring the weekly release cycle as well. It's just more fun to enjoy a show for a couple moths with people all at the same place rather than to have a few days where you feel you need to watch to avoid spoilers or miss the conversations people have about the show.