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June 9, 2021

Netflix and no chill: Why streaming services have a satisfaction problem

David Vanamburg

How did you entertain yourself during the past 18 months?

Perhaps you read books you’d been previously putting off. Maybe you mastered countless board games like Monopoly, Battleship, and Catan. You may have even picked up a new hobby like knitting or calligraphy.

More likely, you plopped yourself down in your favorite spot, got nice and cozy, and streamed one TV show (or movie) after another. And you wouldn’t be alone.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans added streaming subscription services during COVID-19, per an Adweek-Moring Consult poll. Additionally, 36% revealed they subscribe to more services now than they did before the pandemic.

From a financial standpoint, companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney have millions of reasons (and dollars) to feel good about their situation. If only consumers were as satisfied with what these brands were putting down.

Another (un)satisfied streaming customer

Customer satisfaction with video streaming slides 2.6% to an ACSI score of 74, according to our Telecommunications Study 2020-2021. Although customers still favor streaming to the other telecom industries, the lead is dwindling. And the streamers only have themselves to blame.

Customers feel the quality of original programming (down 3% to 74) and variety of TV shows by category (down 3% to 74) are both worse than the previous year. They believe both current season (down 3% to 71) and past season TV shows (down 3% to 73) aren’t as available as they once were, and they’re less thrilled with the number of TV shows (down 4% to 73). It doesn’t stop there.

Consumers believe the number (down 3% to 73) and variety of movies by category (down 4% to 73) were better last year. Worse yet, the availability of new movie titles leaves much to be desired, down 1% to an ACSI score of 70.

Disney+? More like Disney-minus

These flailing figures are an industry-wide issue. This year, seven streaming services post losses of 3% or more.

While Disney+ leads the category for the second straight year, satisfaction diminishes 3% to an ACSI score of 78. According to customers, the streamer is pretty much worse across the board. Aside from being less reliable, it’s middle of the road in terms of number – and variety – of TV shows and variety of films.

Along with Disney+, Hulu (75), Amazon Prime Video (74), CBS All Access (73), and Apple TV+ (72) all suffer 3% declines.

Both Netflix and Apple TV, however, take the biggest licks of all. The former falls 4% to a score of 75, while the latter sinks 4% to 74.

Netflix’s sudden fall from favor is probably the most shocking. Despite having the largest subscriber base, customers are clearly no longer as enthralled with the service as they once were, as its ACSI score is much closer to the industry average than the top of the charts.

What’s the solution to the streaming woes?

When pandemic lockdowns were in full effect, it was easy to turn to streaming services as a form of escape. Yet, after a while, screen fatigue set in and what was once a worthwhile activity quickly became a means of frustration.

Now that summer is here and pandemic restrictions are being lifted, people are going outside again and leaving streaming habits behind. While this might be good for our mental well-being, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for streaming services.

Still, the notion that “content is king” doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, as evidenced by Amazon’s recent $8.45 billion purchase of MGM. Perhaps this consumer (summer) break from screen time is exactly what streaming services need. It’ll give them a chance to regroup, rebuild their content libraries, and give people the fresh content they’ve been clamoring for. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Either way, get your popcorn ready. This is a story you won’t want to miss.

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