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And … cut! A competitor comparison of streaming services to analyse why people cancel

It’s not an easy time to be a consumer, with inflation putting increasing pressure on household budgets. An easy target for cutting costs down? Streaming services. But who’s most likely to get the cut?

The cost-of-living crisis is forcing households to tighten their belts. One option people are considering is cutting down the number of streaming services they subscribe to. Viewers are quite simply spoilt for choice, with many subscribing to a combination of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Sky’s Now TV, and Apple TV. Add Hulu, Paramount Plus and Peacock, and it’s clear customers are going to struggle to pay for them all.

Using our competitor intelligence software, we set out to understand how viewers are feeling about the five largest streaming apps. We analyzed 1 and 2-star Google Play Store reviews to compare streaming TV services and explore which platforms just aren’t doing it for consumers – and are in the biggest danger of seeing subscribers cancel.

So … who’s most likely to get the cut?

All platforms have specific technical issues, except Netflix

When you’re paying for a streaming service, at the very least, you want it to work. But the 1 and 2-star reviews on Google Play Store are filled with specific technical issues that consumers aren’t happy about.

Where Disney+ is often slow, with customers more likely to use the word ‘slow’ than any other platform, Now TV is particularly prone to crashing:

“the app crashes at least 5 – 10 /day”

“constantly crashes and freezes on the menu”

Where Apple’s audio doesn’t always work (“the audio cuts off whenever I connect my earphones”), Amazon customers get frustrated at the language settings:

“recently it keeps changing back to the wrong language”

“I don’t understand why I don’t have the original language option”

Interestingly, Netflix appears to be the only app that isn’t criticised for one specific technical issue, the keyword here being ‘specific’. There are, however, more mentions of general ‘hate’ in Netflix reviews, across multiple issues, from technical through to payment:

“I really hate the limited screen factor”

“payment gone up, which im not best happy about”

But is it better to be criticised for one specific technical thing or criticised more generally when undertaking competitor comparison? It’s hard to judge, but one certainty is how passionately vocal subscribers are when things go wrong.

Disney+ is the only app where price and value aren’t questioned

With rising costs across the board, it’s unsurprising that money and the general value proposition of a service are big factors for subscribers. Our competitor analytics show that Netflix reviews are more likely to mention ‘payment’, for example, while Now TV has more references to ‘worth’ (e.g. “it’s not worth it anymore”).

Disney+ appears to be the only app where customers aren’t explicitly questioning the price or value proposition.

Customers aren’t exactly happy (as you would expect in a 1 or 2-star review). But they are concerned with things like the functionality and speed of the app (e.g. “app is totally nonfunctional. truly disappointed.”) They’re quick to point out how good the content itself is – being 3.9x to use the phrase ‘great content’ than the other apps, but often with a caveat:

“great content , terrible app!”

“terrible performance, great content”

Price and general value are not so much on the minds of Disney+ subscribers in comparison to the other platforms. But poor performance in other areas can distract from a product that is generally viewed as high quality.

Every app inspires a strong emotional reaction, except Apple

A trend that’s clear throughout our streaming service comparison is emotion. Whether it’s positive or negative, customers have strong feelings about each app. Each app, that is, except Apple.

Where Netflix customers use the language of ‘hate’, Disney subscribers have 65.3% more mentions of being ‘disappointed’. While Now TV customers use the word ‘shocking’ more often (e.g. “the chromecast support is really shocking”), Amazon subscribers use the language of ‘annoyance’ (e.g. “this loop just repeats itself over and over. annoying and annoyed!!!”)

But subscribers appear to have more of a transactional relationship with Apple, with little emotion expressed in their complaints (e.g. “when it works, the image quality often become pixelated”). This leads to a tendency towards technical language, not only around the specific technical failures of the app (which are largely audio-related), but also around the product in general.

While a lack of emotion could be good as it’s an avoidance of disappointment, it’s arguably worse to have an absence of any emotional attachment at all, whether it’s good or bad.

Using competitor comparison to understand the power of emotion, quality, and functionality

So, what have we learnt in our competitor comparison of streaming services?

One takeaway is that there’s no clear winner among the different platforms; each service has its own specific challenges and nuances that lead to disgruntled subscribers.

Contrary to what you might expect, we’ve learnt that emotion in the context of negative reviews isn’t always a bad thing, because it shows customers have a level of expectation in the brand and product – they believe in it or have believed in it.

The real danger zone is when customers begin to evaluate the value proposition of each app. ‘Is it worth it?’ ‘Do I need it?’ For a positive conclusion, customers need two things: to be distracted from the price, and to be persuaded of the quality. Our advice to streaming services? Fix the faults and don’t talk about money!

This streaming service comparison using our competitor intelligence software is just one example of how we can help our customers take more from their social listening, analysing text data from any source to explore how people really feel.