Advanced Television

Survey: Streaming eclipses cable/DTH viewing

February 11, 2022

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of information and insights company TransUnion, US consumers are now streaming more than watching cable and satellite TV.

Between mid-November and mid-December 2021, 70 per cent of Americans who watched TV during that time streamed, including 82 per cent of 18-54 year-olds.

The survey of over 1,800 TV viewers found they watch streaming more actively compared to legacy cable/satellite. Further, they prefer streaming for high-engagement viewing occasions, such as watching their favourite show or when they want to ‘lose themselves’ in a programme. The survey also found streaming ads resonate more with consumers – especially the younger audiences advertisers covet – than ads viewed on cable or satellite TV.

“It’s clear that streaming television generates more interest among viewers across content and ads, making free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels critical to advertisers,” asserts Matt Spiegel, EVP of Media and Entertainment Vertical, TransUnion. “Streaming viewing time will soon eclipse traditional TV, and with tens of millions of streaming-only households already, advertisers need the right tools to identify and reach audiences through streaming channels,”

Streaming More Engaging Than TV Tied to the Cord

According to the study, streaming and cable/satellite viewers prefer streaming for entertainment, relaxation and content discovery, while linear TV is more likely to be used to watch news or when the television is on in the background.

Commercials on Streaming TV Garner More Consumer Attention

Overall, ads viewed on streaming platforms engage consumers more than ads viewed on cable and satellite, especially among 18-54 year-olds:

  • Almost twice as many streaming and cable/satellite viewers ages 18-54 claim to pay more attention to commercials on streaming (43 per cent) versus cable/satellite (23 per cent).
  • 59 per cent say streaming TV commercials are more relevant to them than commercials on cable/satellite TV.
  • 47 per cent say streaming has more engaging/interactive commercials compared to only 28 per cent who say the same about cable/satellite.
  • 69 per cent agree that streaming tends to have shorter ad breaks compared to cable/satellite TV, which likely also contributes to increased ad attention.

Streaming Remains a Fragmented Advertising Market

“For advertisers, streaming still has its challenges,” advises David Wiesenfeld, Lead Strategist, Media and Entertainment Vertical, TransUnion. “Consumers stream across multiple devices and applications, many of which own a piece of the streaming ad inventory pool. The different pieces use varying technologies and have unique ways of identifying consumers. That can make it difficult for advertisers to execute audience-targeted campaigns across the streaming ecosystem with the precision and scale they desire,”

The survey found 45 per cent of TV viewers have three or more streaming-capable TVs at home, nearly two in five (38 per cent) have more than one brand of smart TV in their home, and over half of streaming viewers (55 per cent) watched more than five streaming channels in the past month.

“Consumers are telling us how they want to watch TV, and that is increasingly on streaming services. It’s now up to our industry to deliver the seamless, engaging TV ad experiences streaming enables. It starts with being able to recognise consumers across platforms and devices. That will require advertisers, media companies and ad tech platforms to evolve toward an identity infrastructure for TV that serves the needs of all constituents,” concludes Wiesenfeld.

Viewer Preferences – Streaming vs Cable/DTH

Reason to Watch Streaming Cable/DTH
Watch favourite programmes 52% 25%
Relax/Unwind 51% 21%
To escape and lose myself in a programme 52% 20%
Really want to pay attention to programme 49% 22%
When I am looking for something new to watch (discovery) 58% 17%
Watch the news 33% 50%


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