HBO leads as U.S. adds 9M new streaming subscribers in Q3

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Subscription streaming subscriber growth has slowed from its rapid pace earlier in 2020 but it’s still moving faster than it was one year ago.

Analyst firm UBS estimated that the U.S. added approximately 9 million new streaming subscribers during the third quarter. That’s fewer than the 16 million new subscribers during the second quarter but well ahead of the 2 million added in the third quarter of 2019.

UBS said that among the major general entertainment players, HBO led with 1.7 million platform adds followed by Hulu at 1.1 million. The firm estimated that CBS All Access added 900,000, Disney+ added 250,000 (out of 16 million new subscribers globally) and Netflix added around 200,000 (out of 2.2 million globally).

UBS expects subscribers to moderate further in the fourth quarter – the firm estimates growth of more than 6 million – as the industry laps the Disney+ launch/Verizon promo along with a dry spell in new content for most services, wrote UBS analyst John Hodulik in a research note.

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In the same note, UBS estimated that the average U.S. household subscribes to around 2.5 direct-to-consumer streaming services, up from 2.4 in the second quarter and 2.1 in the third quarter of 2019. The firm predicts the average will be more than three per household by 2025.

“While prior UBS Evidence Lab survey work suggests there may be a limit to the number of services HHs are willing to pay for, sports could be a key factor influencing willingness to pay,” wrote Hodulik. “Over time, we expect networks to put more sport rights on their DTC platforms to drive uptake while potentially making it easier for consumers to cut the cord.”