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More Canadians bidding goodbye to streaming subscriptions as cost of living climbs: study 

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Streaming services are the go-to for many when it comes to binge-watching their favourite shows, but as the cost of living continues to rise, one in three Canadians have cancelled at least one subscription in the past six months, a new study has found.

And, over half or 53 per cent have terminated their subscription to save up on some extra money, the survey, conducted among a sample of 1,618 adults by the Angus Reid Institute noted.

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Moreover, younger Canadians and those in lower-income households were found more likely to reduce the number of streaming services they pay for.

Aside from those who stopped services to help cut costs, one in five ended subscriptions with one or more platforms because they said they had too many, the study, published Thursday, said.

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The cancellations come on the heels of some streaming services looking to increase prices, while also introducing advertisements on their platforms.

Earlier this month, Netflix announced it would launch a new ad-supporting streaming tier in Canada for $5.99 per month starting at the beginning of November.

This means subscribers who pay less than ad-free plans, which range from $9.99 to $20.99, will also have to sit through four to five commercials per hour.

Netflix now has a total of 223.1 million subscribers around the world.

In the United States, several of Netflix’s competitors have already launched ad-supported tiers which trade off occasional commercial breaks for a lower subscription price.

HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount Plus are among the companies that have the option stateside, while Disney Plus has outlined plans to begin offering its own version in the coming months.

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However, despite the wave of cancellations, more than four in five Canadians were found to have at least one streaming service subscription and a majority were seen subscribing to more than one, including two in five who have subscriptions to three or more, the study showed.

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The content on streaming platforms also seems to have played a role for a significant number of Canadians when it came to pulling the plug on subscriptions.

A total of 24 per cent cancelled because they said there wasn’t anything to watch on the service; 15 per cent left because a show they watched was removed from the catalogue and 39 per cent said goodbye because they weren’t using the service.

Almost one in 10 cut a streaming subscription because they felt the content was the same between platforms.

Aside from streaming services, the study also found a continuing decline in the use of cable.

For the first time ever in 2010, pay television saw a fall in subscribers as services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Crave broke into the market.

And that trend is still thriving. While three in five Canadian households said they’re currently subscribed to cable or satellite, the number has steadily declined as nearly nine in 10 said the same a decade ago.

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Of those who’ve cancelled, one-third said the movies and shows they watch were already offered online by streaming services and one-quarter said there wasn’t anything on TV that they wanted to watch. Half also said they weren’t getting good value.

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However, more than two in five continue to hold their cable subscription as they say the programming they prefer is only available through a traditional television subscription.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Oct. 11-13, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 1,618 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

— with files from Reuters and The Canadian Press

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