The Biggest Films of the Year Were Direct-to-SVOD
Hamilton, Soul, Wonder Woman 1984 — and their impact on Streaming
The second half of 2020 opened with Hamilton’s release on Disney+ and culminated with WW84 and Soul, which premiered Christmas Day on their respective services. These titles — originally intended for exclusive theatrical runs — served instead as big direct-to-streaming bets by Disney+ and HBO Max.
WW84 and Hamilton were the most impactful SVOD releases of the year, in terms of Subscriber Acquisition during their respective opening weekends. WW84 drove more Sign-ups in its opening weekend than any other release — Hamilton generated 71% as many; and Soul, 35%.
Because HBO Max eliminated its Free Trial in advance of WW84, all of these Sign-ups were for paid Subscriptions, compared to earlier releases for which some of the Sign-ups did not convert to paid Subscribers (Disney+ similarly eliminated its free trial offer in advance of Hamilton, and has not restored it).
Note: this analysis includes only net new HBO Max Sign-ups and not Activations.
Nearly a quarter of Subscribers who joined Disney+ on Hamilton’s opening weekend cancelled within one month. Three months later, 59% of Hamilton Subscribers remained Subscribed to the service.
For reference, 69% of Disney+ Subscribers who joined in June 2020 remained Subscribed three months later — compared to 70% for HBO Max and 77% for Netflix in the same time period.
Unlike the Box Office, success of direct-to-SVOD films cannot only be measured by the number of people willing to pay the price of admission. While acquiring Subscribers is important to both Disney+ and HBO Max, retaining these customers is critical to success.
Direct-to-SVOD Blockbusters have proven to meaningfully drive new Subscriptions. Looking forward, ANTENNA will monitor the loyalty of these cohorts — as well as other key inputs such as Plan Term, Price, and Distribution Channel — to measure the comprehensive impact of these bets.
Brendan Brady is a Content Strategy Associate at ANTENNA, a measurement and analytics company providing insight into purchase behavior and subscription metrics across the new media landscape.