Report: Sports remain last defence for linear TV in US
February 14, 2023
Samba TV, a provider of omniscreen data and measurement, has released its latest State of Viewership report, analysing approximately 47 billion hours of linear and streaming in the US during the second half of 2022.
Samba TV’s targeted insights illustrate a viewership landscape marked by a historic new low in linear TV viewership, and a record saturation of the linear advertising market. With cord-cutting now the norm, the streaming-first world has given rise to new trends like subscription cycling, while making content discoverability a new challenge for streaming platforms.
“We have reached a critical turning point in television and viewing consumption. For the first time in history, a majority of Americans report they no longer have a monthly cable subscription and are totally unreachable by traditional linear advertising. Meanwhile, streaming has become ubiquitous among every age group and ad-supported streaming has gone fully mainstream with significant expansion across new platforms including industry leaders like Netflix and Disney+ entering the world of ads,” said Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin. “While the market has never been more fragmented and rife with challenges for streamers and advertisers alike, there are also unprecedented new opportunities to drive engagement and ultimately market success for those who embrace a streaming first, data driven, mindset.”
Samba TV’s State of Viewership Report provides a comprehensive overview of linear (broadcast) television, movie, and Connected TV (CTV) viewership. Samba TV’s report sheds further light on changes in television viewership, which include:
Reach and hours of linear television watched hit a seven-quarter low in the third quarter of 2022 as the majority of US households no longer have a monthly cable subscription.
● Behavioural shifts away from linear highlight steep challenges advertisers face in reaching viewers via traditional platforms, with many viewers cutting the cord and shifting their attention to streaming platforms.
● Less than half of US adults (48 per cent) report they have a monthly cable or satellite TV subscription and Samba TV data found that less than half of US households watched linear TV daily throughout the second half of 2022, with average daily reach and the number of hours viewed in Q3 dropping to the lowest it has been during the past 7 quarters.
Nearly all linear advertising impressions reach only half of American households.
● Samba TV’s insights uncovered significant ad saturation across linear, with 93 per cent of all ad impressions reaching only half (55 per cent) of American households.
● Samba TV data shows that as Heavy and Medium TV viewers are inundated with the same ads over and over again, the brands they represent are failing to reach new audiences and driving ad fatigue among those who are exposed to messaging.
With cord-cutting becoming the norm, particularly among younger generations, the way audiences are engaging with streaming platforms is fundamentally changing and the consumer is even harder to reach than ever before.
● Samba TV data shows that households are not willing to replace their $100 cable bill with $100 in streaming subscriptions. Further, a majority of adults subscribe to content across two or less streaming services.
● This is giving rise to a new trend of subscription cycling, when viewers sign up for a streaming service to watch one programme, promptly canceling that subscription once the programme is over, and then sign up for another.
● 29 per cent of people have subscription cycled in the last 6 months and 69 per cent of people plan to cycle in the next 6 months.
● Over half of subscription cyclers did so because only one piece of content interested them per platform, making discoverability a new challenge for streaming giants.
Sports remain the last line of defence for linear television, with women’s sports demonstrating explosive growth in 2022.
● Americans showed that football remains king in this country during the second half of 2022, with the NFL dominating all 25 of the most-watched linear programmes. Although sports and the NFL in particular have saved linear thus far, that’s likely to change as the rights continue to be whittled away by streaming platforms.
● The popularity of women’s sports continues to grow steadily, with multiple live women’s sporting events in 2022 demonstrating triple-digit year-over-year growth. The audience watching these events is a highly coveted one for advertisers, with women’s sports drawing in younger, more affluent viewers from every corner of the nation.
“A critical finding in this latest report points to the need for streaming platforms to think differently about discoverability,” continued Samba TV’s Navin. “In a streaming-first world, many consumers are at risk of abandoning streaming subscriptions because they are simply not finding anything to watch. With over two-thirds of adults planning to cycle out of their subscriptions in the next six months, streamers will need to really shift from a pure acquisition mindset to one that places retention at the forefront. Streaming platforms must look to drive deeper engagement with their full portfolio of content in order to retain their audiences beyond one tentpole program.”