Netflix user decline is being driven by Gen Z women, mobile report finds

By Grace Buono

July 12, 2022

Netflix lost 26% of its Gen Z female users on its mobile app between 2019 and 2022, the largest decline compared to all other age groups, according to a new study conducted by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) 

Collecting data across 200,000 U.S. adult smartphone users, GWS calculates that not only have over a quarter of female subscribers ages 18 to 24 left the streaming platform, but the number of minutes spent on Netflix’s mobile app has decreased among users of all ages. According to the study, even with users who are not canceling subscriptions, minutes spent streaming among women 18 to 34 has decreased by 39% since 2019 and by 33% among men aged 25 to 34.  

With Netflix set to release its second-quarter earnings following the platform’s loss of subscribers for the first time in 10 years, significant layoffs, and measures to curb password sharing, GWS’s findings illuminate additional subscriber and viewership trends that are currently affecting the company.  

Netflix is not alone in these recent declines in smartphone viewership. According to the study, since its launch in 2021, Discovery+ has recorded the lowest quarterly minutes of use at 3.2 billion minutes, compared to the third quarter of 2021 when peak viewership reached 4.8 billion minutes.  

Despite these trends among Gen Z women, Netflix is still the most popular “premium content” streaming service for mobile app viewers, according to GWS. And yet, not even Netflix comes close to video powerhouse YouTube, which garners nearly 6 million more sessions—shows between 30 minutes and an hour—than Netflix. Those ages 18 to 34 spend 80% more minutes daily on YouTube than streaming services, 71% of whom are likely to be using smartphones.  

“For most people, smartphones are now their main portal into the world of entertainment and leisure,” Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions said, commenting on the study. “While these platforms can take comfort from the fact that consumers consistently declare mobiles as crucial devices for their consumption of video content, an increasingly competitive market will always mean consumers are attracted by the best content and the best service when streaming online.” 

According to GWS, Netflix’s loss of a key, younger female audience on its mobile platform is a potential signal that the streaming service continues to have less appeal among subscribers.