The months leading up to the launch of a new streaming service are always filled with advertisements and promotions to generate interest. Streaming services often market their new content with free trials, discounted subscription prices, or the appeal of new original content. Another marketing tactic we’ve seen a lot of recently is piggybacking on big mobile carriers to reach new customers.
Streamers like Disney+ and HBO Max both partnered with mobile carriers at launch. Disney+ offered Verizon customers a free one-year subscription at launch and has since continued to offer deals bundled with Verizon cell phone plans. Upon its arrival, HBO Max gave customers who were subscribed to HBO through AT&T and customers who had select AT&T wireless, video, and internet plans access to HBO Max at no additional charge.
So how does launching with a free offer to mobile customers help a streaming service’s performance?
A new study by Embee shows deals with mobile carriers do seem to pay off, especially in the beginning. However, subscriber retention seems to drop off as the months progress.
Disney+ saw double the adoption rate from Verizon customers at launch compared to those who weren’t with the mobile carrier. The Mouse House saw 14.5% penetration from Verizon customers during its first month and just 7.7% from non-Verizon subscribers. As time went on, Verizon customers dropped off to 10.1% by month 6 while regular subscribers only tapered by 2 points to 5.8%.
HBO Max saw a 2.4% penetration rate at launch from AT&T customers, with just 1.1% from non-AT&T subscribers. However, HBO Max has continued to grow over the past six months raising its numbers to 5.2% with the help of AT&T and 2.1% on its own.
For comparison, NBC launched Peacock without the help of any incentives from mobile carriers. It entered the streaming market with 1.6% penetration and has stayed relatively steady ending its fifth month at 1.5%.