‘Show-Chasers’ Are the Latest Headache Streamers Have to Deal with — Study

Does your Apple TV+ membership come and go with new seasons of “Ted Lasso”? [Jeff Foxworthy Voice:] Then you might be a “Show-Chaser.”

Serial churners are so 2023 — 2024 is the year of the show-chaser, according to research firm Antenna. These folks currently may be out hunting baby reindeer. In its first four days of availability, “Baby Reindeer” was viewed 2.6 million times, according to Netflix. The following week, its first full one, the limited series from (and starring) Richard Gadd exploded to 13.3 million views — more than a five-fold increase. That tally nearly doubled the next week to 22 million views.

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“Baby Reindeer” is a sensation fueled by word of mouth — and by word on TikTok — the type that could singlehandedly bring Netflix some new subscribers. But these hypothetical members are not very likely to stick around; they’re show-chasers, an (at least) semi-undesirable subset of serial churners.

A show-chaser may be an Apple TV+ subscriber one month for “Ted Lasso” (pictured above, and arguably the biggest example of the trend). The next month he or she could be a Paramount+ with Showtime subscriber for “Yellowjackets,” a Starz OTT user for “Outlander,” or a Max member for “House of the Dragon.” You get the point: These streaming users are precise in terms of timing and series and frugal with their entertainment dollars. They’re also on the rise, big time.

In 2019, just 3 percent of all U.S. streaming subscribers were considered what Antenna calls “Serial Churners” — consumers who canceled three or more premium SVOD (subscription video on-demand) services within the past two years. These days, it’s more like 25 percent, according to the analytics company Antenna. Why? More consumers, more services, more plans, and more content have created a lack of loyalty. The good news is that more than one-third of them will return within a calendar year.

But of that 25 percent, 38 percent made three or more of their cancellations within the first three months of subscribing to a Premium SVOD service. (Thirty-eight percent of 25 percent is 9.5 percent of the U.S. streaming population.) These are the show-chasers: they sign up to a service for specific content and then cancel shortly thereafter. Just wait for “Stranger Things 5.”

Courtesy of Antenna
Courtesy of Antenna

As good as “Baby Reindeer” is (and it is!) and as successful as it’s been for Netflix, the stranger-than-fiction limited series is unlikely to become one of Netflix’s top 10 most-popular shows ever. The threshold for that list (at the time of this writing) is 83 million views for “The Witcher” Season 1 over its first 91 days.

Think that’s impressive? (It is.) The biggest series ever on Netflix is “Squid Game” Season 1, which had more than three times as many views. (So does “Wednesday” Season 1, the streamer’s top English-language TV series thus far — that series just has smaller numbers after the decimal point.)

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