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Research: Most Americans want ad-supported Netflix for free

October 26, 2022

Attest, a consumer research platform, has released the findings from the latest edition of its Quarterly US Media Consumption Tracker. It provides continuous insights into how Americans’ habits across television, audio, news, and social media continue to evolve.

In addition, Attest conducted some further research into consumers’ attitudes toward Netflix’s plans to introduce advertising to the platform, given reports that this will happen before the end of the year.

  • If Netflix introduces a discounted subscription, most current subscribers want it for free: With well-publicised plans to introduce a discounted subscription tier supported by adverts, a majority of respondents (who are subscribers) want this to be for free (19.9 per cent), followed by 17.3 per cent who say they won’t switch. Of respondents who would be willing to pay for a discounted subscription, most would be willing to pay $5-6 per month (15.5 per cent), followed by $9-10 (12.7 per cent) and $7-8 (11.2 per cent).
  • Subscription tiering may be a zero-gain game for Netflix: Attest also asked non-subscribers their thoughts on the introduction of ad-supported tiering. It highlighted that Netflix may add some new subscribers, but at the cost of existing subscribers also downgrading their current subscription, meaning a negligible net gain in revenue. For example, pricing this new subscription tiering at $5-6 would persuade 18.9 per cent of non-subscribers to sign up, but it would also encourage 15.5 per cent of existing subscribers to switch to this cheaper price point.
  • Consumers like a shift to weekly episode drops: Netflix once pioneered releasing entire series all at once, allowing viewers to binge at their convenience. With reports that it might be shifting away from this model to release episodes on a more traditional weekly basis, a majority (40.1 per cent) surprisingly support such a move. Perhaps consumers are missing some healthy anticipation?
  • Password sharing still appears to be an issue: The research also finds that one in five (22.6 per cent) rely on using an account paid for by someone else.

Q3 US Media Consumption Tracker Results

For Q3 Attest finds that it’s been a summer of growth for all forms of media.

TV & Streaming Trends 

YouTube TV comes out on top in Q3, new Game Of Thrones pulls viewers in for HBO

  • Attest’s research finds that YouTube TV made the biggest gains of all the TV streaming services in Q3. The platform increased weekly US users by +6 percentage points to 23.0 per cent. This could grow further following the launch of a new mix-and-match offering that means users don’t have to pay $64.99 a month for the YouTube TV Base Plan.
  • Despite plans to shut down HBO Max as a standalone platform next year, it saw a 4.8 percentage point uplift to 32.6 per cent, assisted by the popularity of its Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, which was the most-named show of the quarter. HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge into one platform next summer.
  • The growth that Disney+ enjoyed in Q2 has eased off and it fails to move this quarter. Netflix also remains more or less static but still holds the title of the nation’s most popular streaming platform, watched by 70.1 per cent of people weekly. By contrast, Prime Video grew 4.4 percentage points to 47.3 per cent, joining Hulu in second place (47.2 per cent).

Viewing time creeps up across subscription and live TV

  • Viewing time for subscription TV is modestly trending up, with Americans most likely to say they watch between 1-2 hours per day (30.9 per cent). Viewing time is also on the up for free on-demand TV, although a lesser 22.5 per cent of people watch it for 1-2 hours per day (and 34.4 per cent don’t watch it at all).
  • Live TV also sees a +4.4 percentage point increase in regular viewers: 77.7 per cent of Americans say they watch at least some live TV each day. This is most likely to be between 1-2 hours.

Social Media Trends

Social media usage trends upward across the board

  • All of the 9 platforms Attest measured showed growth. Twitter bounced back, increasing users overall by +6.9 percentage points to 56.5 per cent and upping weekly users by 8.8 percentage points to 42.5 per cent. This allowed it to overtake Pinterest and reclaim 6th position, although Snapchat still sits ahead at number 5.
  • Americans are most likely to spend 1-2 hours (24.1 per cent) a day on social media. A further 18.3 per cent spend 3-4 hours.

TikTok sees the biggest growth of all platforms

  • TikTok continues its impressive growth in Q3. The platform increased US usership by +8.3 percentage points to 68.1 per cent. And those visiting it weekly grew by +9.5 percentage points to 55.5 per cent (including 34.6 per cent who visit the platform daily).
  • Instagram also performed well, expanding US users numbers by +7.5 percentage points to 71.9 per cent, and increasing weekly users by 9.7 percentage points to 60.9 per cent.
  • Attest also analysed social media newcomer BeReal for the first time. The platform has been designed to combat the superficiality of regular social media by requiring users to take photos at different times each day – regardless of what they’re doing at that moment. It found that only 15.2 per cent of Americans are using the platform currently, with 11 per cent using it frequently.

Audio Trends 

YouTube Music slips back into second place behind Spotify

  • Last quarter Attest reported how YouTube Music had overtaken Spotify to become America’s favorite music streaming service – but its moment of glory didn’t last long. Spotify rallied with a +4.7 percentage point growth in regular users, regaining the top spot with a 43 per cent market share. But YouTube Music also grew by +3 percentage points to 42.4 per cent meaning there’s still only a hair’s breadth between them.
  • All of the music streaming platforms in this survey grew in Q3, with 41.9 per cent of Americans listening to streamed music daily. This is greater than the number of people who listen to radio on a daily basis (37.5 per cent), despite the medium also enjoying a small increase during the quarter.

While podcasts experience the biggest upswing in Q3

  • The most notable growth in audio comes from podcasts; the number of people who listen to podcasts in the US grew by +6.1 percentage points to 65 per cent, while the percentage who listen at least once a week increased by +6.4 percentage points to 40 per cent. News/politics is the most popular genre of podcast (24.2 per cent), followed by comedy (23.9 per cent), and true crime (22.4 per cent).
  • Meanwhile, audiobooks also enjoyed a positive quarter, with the number of Americans who listen to them increasing by +3.2 percentage points to 58.1 per cent. And the percentage who listen weekly grew by +6.9 percentage points to 26.3 per cent.

Media (Print & Digital)

Interest in news media rise, even in print 

  • All forms of news media enjoyed a positive quarter. Digital magazines chalked up a +6.5 percentage point increase in readers to 63.9 per cent, with 33 per cent of people accessing them weekly (+5.7pp). Readership of printed magazines also grew by +4.9 percentage points to 68.5 per cent. This is alongside a 3.6 percentage point increase in people reading on a weekly basis (to 29.7 per cent). Finally, news websites and apps saw a +4.5 percentage point increase in users (to 82 per cent) and a +6 percentage point uplift in Americans accessing them weekly (to 59.7 per cent).
  • Printed newspapers even saw a surprise boost this quarter; growing readers by +6.6 percentage points to 61.6 per cent – that’s the highest the figure has been all year. Reading frequency also increased, with 32.1 per cent of people (+6 pp) picking up a printed newspaper at least once a week.
  • Subscriptions to news media also grew this quarter. Following a +3.1 percentage point increase, 40 per cent of Americans have at least one paid-for content subscription (either print or digital).


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