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Streaming Services Compete for Consumers’ Holiday Spending With Giftable Subscriptions


From directly giftable subscriptions to traditional gift cards, video streaming services are finding ways to capture consumers’ holiday season spending.

Notably, leading players in the space do not offer direct subscription gifting and those that once did have removed the option. Disney+, for instance, once offered giftable subscription cards, but now the closest consumers can get is purchasing a Disney+ gift card that can be applied to any subscription. Similarly, according to Vulture, where Amazon once offered the option to gift Prime Video subscriptions, now it only sells more general Prime gift cards.

Netflix, for its part, offers digital gift cards through third-party retail partners, as does Hulu, although neither sells these cards directly, while Apple TV+-specific gift cards are not available — only more general Apple gift cards.

Meanwhile, Max and Peacock do not offer any gift cards, losing out on the opportunity to capture these occasions. Only more niche streaming services, such as Britbox, Mubi, The Criterion Channel, ESPN+ and Acorn TV, offer directly giftable subscriptions.

Overall, the gifting opportunity is sizable, according to findings from the report “The Credit Economy: How Consumers Are Approaching Holiday Spending and Travel,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and i2c collaboration. The study, which drew from a survey of more than 3,300 U.S. consumers, revealed that spending on gifts will rise moderately compared to last year and average roughly $1,000 across demographics.

Plus, 37% of holiday shoppers will buy gift cards this year, and consumers are doing what they can to avoid having to pinch pennies. Ninety-four percent said they are taking action to make sure they don’t have to cut back on gifts.

The gifting opportunity in streaming is especially significant, considering that many consumers enjoy the content but are hesitant to pay for more subscriptions themselves. According to findings from last year highlighted in PYMNTS’ Subscription Commerce Tracker®, created in collaboration with Vindicia, 55% of consumers think there are too many streaming options, and 53% find it too expensive to pay for all the content.

Additionally, subscription services have the advantage of offering a gift option that does not need to ship in advance, giving players in the space the option to capture consumers’ last-minute holiday spending.

“What’s interesting is that for gift subscriptions, we have big spikes on December 24th and 25th,” Elena Lécué, chief marketing officer at subscription-based fragrance company Scentbird, told PYMNTS in an interview posted this month. “So, they really help those who maybe haven’t had time to get that holiday gift.”

Other merchants are getting into giftable options. Earlier this month, for instance, fast-casual chain Panera Bread, which has more than 2,100 locations across the U.S. and Canada, announced that it is making its Unlimited Sip Club beverage subscriptions giftable, enabling consumers to purchase plans for one, six or 12 months to give to others.

Last year, leading U.S. restaurant aggregator DoorDash announced the option for consumers to buy three-, six- or 12-month memberships for others to be sent via email, enabling the company to capture occasions for which its rivals have no similar options.