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SVOD and AVOD service launches in the US slow, still significant

Streaming service launches in the U.S. may have slowed in recent years from the frenzied pace set in 2015-2019, but a variety of new offerings continue to enter a crowded space. Six new services joined the fray in 2021 — the lowest total tracked by Kagan since 2013 — while 11 new offerings debuted in 2020. Please note that data discussed here is for selected services and only includes new stand-alone subscription video and ad-supported video launches in the U.S. Transactional and virtual multichannel services are not tracked here nor are services that are only available via third-party channels platforms operated by Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., and Roku Inc.

Launches in 2020 and 2021 include a mix of high-profile debuts from network owners — Discovery+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock — alongside smaller niche services and international operators such as iQIYI Inc. and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. dipping their toes into the U.S. market. Quibi is the only recent service to pull off the unenviable feat of launching and shuttering within the same year. It debuted in April 2020 amid the pandemic but announced it was closing about six months later when it was unable to gain traction among paid subscribers.

Most debuts in 2020-2021 were SVOD offerings, although free AVOD services were represented by Live TV on Plex, Redbox Automated Retail LLC’s Redbox Free Live TV and PrendeTV as well as Peacock with its hybrid free AVOD/SVOD operating model.

Historical totals for SVOD versus free AVOD launches show a fairly even split for roughly a decade in 2005-2014 but then a noticeable tilt toward subscription video developing in 2015 and continuing through 2021. Some traditional media firms and network owners were initially hesitant to lean into a direct-to-consumer streaming model for fear of harming their traditional linear TV revenue streams. When they finally did so, most went the SVOD route — often offering a base ad-supported subscription tier alongside a pricier ad-free tier — with Hulu LLC and Comcast Corp.’s Peacock notable exceptions that launched with free AVOD viewing options.

Of a total of 159 launches tracked from 2005-2021, 106 (66.7%) were SVOD offerings while 53 (33.3%) generated the majority or all of their revenues from free, ad-supported viewing. Please note that for this analysis Kagan assigned a primary operating model to services that have both SVOD and free AVOD elements.

2022 could be relatively quiet for new launches, especially with most major network owners now fielding various streaming options. CNN+ is slated to launch in early 2022 and Univision Holdings Inc. has revealed plans to a pair of new services in the U.S. and Latin America — one free AVOD offering built around PrendeTV and a subscription service backed by Univision and Televisa content assets. S&P Global

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