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Streaming summer: 79% of Americans plan to stick with streaming TV

American viewers are set to stay streaming through the summer

Summer is coming. Americans are being vaccinated in droves. But as they leave their homes, will they leave all of their favorite streaming services behind, too? According to an exclusive study conducted by The Drum in conjunction with YouGov, the answer is no. Premium streaming viewing habits seem indelible. However, adoption of some ad-supported video on demand options may still take time.

Who needs sunshine? Americans are sticking with their streaming TV.

More than half of Americans have received at least one Covid shot. With warmer weather ahead, dreams of barbecues and outdoor concerts are filling the heads of many. Does that mean that consumption of streaming video will suffer? Not really, according to a poll of 1,200 adult consumers conducted by The Drum/YouGov on April 21, 2021.

Two-thirds of those polled say they will watch the same amount of streaming TV during the next three months. And 13% say they will watch even more. What’s more, a fifth of the coveted 18 to 29-year-old demographic say they will watch more streaming TV.

“While Covid-19 is an anomaly, the trends that we see coming out of it are not. People shifted their viewing habits, permanently,” says Ryan Eusanio, managing director, digital activation at Omnicom Media Group. “This is not just because of the circumstances, it might have been in reaction to the circumstances, but these changes were already happening. They were just accelerated over the last year.”

The ficklest of all: viewers 18-29

Despite the rapid proliferation of choice now – many of which come with free trial periods – more than half (53%) of Americans say they are not planning on canceling a service or letting a trial period expire within the next three months. Less than a quarter (21%) say they plan to cull down their service. In this case, however, the 18- to 29-year-old demographic proved to be the most fickle with 29% saying they plan on canceling a service.

“As consumers’ fandom grows for premium programming — series and documentaries — exclusive to SVOD platforms, it becomes more difficult for them to cancel or choose not to renew the services,” says Alex Stone, senior vice president of advanced video and agency partnerships at Horizon Media.

Still, the new spate of premium services appear to have some work to do. Half of the respondents say they only have one or two subscriptions. 20% have three subscriptions and 12% have four.

Ad-supported options still have some work to do

Like all things streaming, the competition in the AVOD category is fierce. HBOMax is just the latest to announce they will be entering the AVOD arena alongside the likes of Tubi, Pluto and others.

While the growth of AVOD viewing is undeniable, a a little less than half (46%) of respondents say AVOD services (specifically subscriptions that are less expensive in exchange for watching ads) are not currently in their consideration set.

“Here’s the issue. Nobody wants commercials. They don’t like watching ads,” says Marc ’Mr TV’ Berman, editor of Programming Insider. “However, once people begin to realize that the costs of all these services are adding up – Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, they might say, ‘I’ll put up with commercials on Tubi and Pluto.’”

The good news: 53% of 18 to 29-year-olds say they will consider or strongly consider these ad-supported options, lower fee options.

Horizon Media’s Stone, says consumer appetite for AVOD will only grow. “We are seeing growth in AVOD consumption with cord cutters still seeking places to watch free TV and live sports/events.”

Jane Clarke, chief executive and managing director at the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement says when it comes to paying a lesser fee in order to have a low ad load, “a significant number of consumers want either one or the other: paid subscription services or ad-supported free services.

Still, she says, “a significant portion of the population that will accept advertising in return for free or reduced-price content. Consumers have always had a reciprocal relationship between content and ads, such that they are willing to accept ads if the content is free, but if they’re paying for the content, they have a much lower – or zero – tolerance for ads, especially interruptive ones!”

From late April until early May, The Drum is taking a deep dive into what’s in store for the small screen as we launch our Future of TV hub. You can also sign up for The Drum’s daily US email here.

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