Hollywood Strikes Could Drive Streaming Service Cancellations, New Whip Media Survey Finds

By: Sean Burch|July 28, 2023

The ongoing actors and writers strikes could fuel a wave of streaming cancellations later this year, according to new survey data from Whip Media.

No service is immune, either. As TheWrap succinctly put it: “Customers of every major streaming service in the U.S. said they were much more likely to cancel their subscriptions if the concurrent Hollywood strikes significantly delay the release of new content,” according to the survey results.

That was the case for each of the top 8 streaming services in the States: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+ and Peacock. 

The service that saw the biggest spike in the likelihood subscribers would cancel their plans if the strike leads to content delays? That would be Hulu. The survey found Hulu subscribers were 3.4 times more likely to cancel their service due to strike-related delays.

And that really stood out, especially when you consider Hulu subscribers tend to be satisfied with their service when there aren’t strikes going on. As the chart below shows, only 4.5% of Hulu subscribers said they might cancel their service under normal circumstances — making it the second-stickiest streaming service among customers, after Amazon Prime Video. (Prime Video has other factors working in its favor that tend to limit churn — like the fact its customers would typically be canceling their free shipping on Amazon purchases, for example, if they dropped their plans.)

The odds Hulu customers would cancel jumped from 4.5% to 15.3%, though, when subscribers were asked if they might cancel due to potential strike-related content delays. (That sharp increase is where you see Hulu customers are 3.4 times more likely to cancel their subscriptions because of delays.) Hulu has been on a hot streak recently, too, thanks to “The Bear,” which has landed among the top 10 most-streamed shows in the U.S. each of the last five weeks, according to Whip Media’s weekly TV ranker.

Back to the survey; Digital TV Europe summarized the findings well:

“While Hulu started with among the lowest proportion of subscribers who said they might cancel, it saw the largest increase on that measure when people considered the impact of the strike on new US original programming.”

Still, the survey results were clear — it’s not just Hulu.

“Prime Video and Max both saw the odds that subscribers cancel their services increase 2.7 times due to strike-related content delays,” TheWrap explained. “Disney+, Paramount+, Peacock and Apple TV+ all saw the chances subscribers drop their monthly payments more than double when faced with significant delays, too.  

“In fact, Netflix was the only service that didn’t see at least a 100% increase in the likelihood its subscribers would cancel their plans due to content delays.”

Of course, some of that could be tied to Netflix’s overall stickiness among customers. The company does have a first-mover advantage in streaming, to go along with more subscribers than any other service; last week, Netflix reported it had 238.4 million global customers at the end of the second quarter.

The new survey reinforces the key takeaways from a similar Whip Media viewer survey back in May. As Media Play News explained at the time, “in the survey, 83% of American respondents said they were aware of the strike and about 60% said the strike could be significantly disruptive to their viewing activity later in the year.”

And keep in mind, Whip Media’s May survey was fielded when only the writers were on strike; the actors strike started in July — marking the first time since 1960 that both Hollywood’s writers and actors were striking at the same time. Taken together, the surveys indicate there is real concern among TV fans that their favorite content could be significantly delayed due to the strikes. Hopefully, for both fans and the industry, an agreement can be reached sooner than later.