Entertainment

New Wi-Fi data shows why Peloton is in trouble

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Image of a female fitness instructor on a smart bike screen

As people leave their pandemic cocoons, they’re increasingly ditching their smart bikes.

Photo: Peloton

Home workouts are so 2021: As people leave their pandemic cocoons, they’re increasingly ditching their Peloton classes, according to new data from Wi-Fi networking startup Plume Design.

During the first six months of this year, the average amount of data streamed to at-home fitness bikes was down 23% when compared to the same time span a year ago, Plume revealed as part of its IQ Smart Home Market Report released Wednesday.

It’s the single biggest contraction among home Wi-Fi devices that Plume was able to measure. Fitness bikes were followed by media players (Blu-ray players, iPods and similar devices), which saw a decline of 14%, and PCs, which were down 7% year-over-year. The picture looks notably different for modern home entertainment devices. Smart TVs saw data consumption increase by 34% year-over-year, with smart speaker data usage up 27% year-over-year.

The bleak picture for Peloton comes after the company announced plans to lay off 780 employees and close a yet-to-be-determined number of stores earlier this month. Last week, Peloton told investors it had losses of $1.2 billion during the most recent quarter, with revenues down 28% year-over-year.

Peloton also saw its member numbers decline by 2% quarter-over-quarter and added close to zero new connected fitness subscribers in its most recent quarter. What’s more, even subscribers who are sticking with the company aren’t working out nearly as much as they used to. The number of average monthly Peloton workouts per subscriber was down 26% year-over-year.

Plume’s data not only corroborates those trends but also shows that connected fitness as a whole is still a pretty small phenomenon when compared to other types of entertainment. On average, households with fitness bikes consumed just 0.13 GB of data per month via those devices during the first half of this year. For comparison’s sake, households with smart TVs streamed nearly 85 GB of content per month during the same time frame.

Smart TVs also surpassed set-top boxes, which include streaming devices like Apple TV and those made by Roku and Amazon, in data consumption this year. Households streamed an average of 84.62 GB of data per month to smart TVs during the first half of the year, compared to 75.15 GB streamed to set-top boxes. During the first six months of 2021, external streaming devices were still slightly ahead of smart TVs when it came to data consumption (70.2 GB vs. 63.24 GB).

Plume measures this kind of data both through its own mesh routers as well as third-party hardware running its software. The company has partnerships with ISPs like Comcast, Charter and Vodafone, and it has insights into the data usage of more than 41 million homes worldwide.

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Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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