Streaming Economy Stalls as Americans See Through Studio-Split Scam


Back before streaming became the premiere avenue of entertainment, many of us were paying $60 to $100 a month for cable.  Here and there, we’d find ourselves adding an extra $10 or $20 to the bill for HBO, Cinemax, or any of the brokerage studios whose backdoor deals allowed them to acquire the rights to movies long before “regular” television could.

When streaming became the preemptive mode of content gathering, the landscape shifted. Americans began to cut the cord en masse, preferring to binge-watch Netflix shows and keep an HBO streaming account handy for movies and Game of Thrones.

But it didn’t take long for the production studios themselves to want a piece of this action, and soon you’d have to shell out $6 here, $14.99 there just to be able to watch the sorts of things that Netflix and HBO had previously covered.  As these services multiplied, Americans began to see the scam for what it was:  A diluting of the content source and a gouging of the overall price of entrainment.

New data shows that our nation has finally had enough. 

  • The proportion of U.S. households who have video streaming services has stalled at 86% (up 0.4% points quarter-on-quarter), after seeing substantial growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. This means there are now 110.2 million households accessing streaming services, as of March 2022.

  • While flat overall, there are growth differences across the streaming tiers. SVoD (paid streaming without ads) is down 0.2% points to 81.4%, while AVoD (paid ad-supported streaming) grew by 2.2% points to 20.2% household penetration. FAST (free, ad supported streaming) grew by 0.9% points to 25.3%.

  • While AVoD and FAST streaming continues to grow, their growth slowed compared to their rapid growth in previous quarters.

  • Live Pay-TV is flat, continuing to have 60% of U.S. household penetration

  • 8% of U.S. households accessed a new service in the first quarter, down from 9% in the fourth quarter of 2021.

By choosing revenue first, these now-streaming studios have shattered the assumed promises of the early days of streaming, and are now simply locked in the same sort of marketing battles that had Americans infuriated with cable providers in the first place.