Like most aspects of daily life in the United States, consumer media consumption habits changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
New findings from advertising video on-demand platform Future Today indicate that 36% of American consumers stream more now than they did pre-pandemic, versus a mere 4% that stream less.
However, many are weary of the costs that come with it, which is why over one-third (36%) of respondents expect to cut down on their number of streaming subscription services in the next six to 12 months. Another 14% said that they've already canceled one of their subscriptions in the past year. Those ages 18 to 29 reported having the highest cancellation rate at 20%.
Viewers increase time spent on streaming services during the COVID-19 crisis
A recent survey from NortonLifeLock revealed that over half of Americans saw a significant increase in their leisure screen time during the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Future Today, a considerable amount of this time has gone to streaming: With the exception of respondents ages 60 and older, survey participants on average spend 11 hours per week watching streaming services and eight hours on cable or broadcast TV.
Just over half of respondents (51%) say they prefer ad-supported video (AVOD) services too, as it helps them reduce or even eliminate subscription fees. This aligns with a different report from Empower Retirement and Personal Capital, which found that the majority of Americans struggle with improving their financial health due to challenges such as constant expenses.
Perhaps this is why so many people admit to using free trials for streaming services over the past year. Future Today found that 28% of viewers have used one or more free trials in the last 12 months, and that 5% have used three or more. The top reasons for doing so include:
- To sample the service before purchasing (31%)
- To binge a single TV series or movie before the trial ended (24%)
- Because it came free as a promotion with another purchase made (15%)
But despite good intentions to cut back on expenses, the survey noted that 41% of those who used a free trial in the past year bought a subscription after the trial period ended.
Personalization remains important for streaming service subscribers
The Future Today survey also looked at consumer preferences with streaming services, and it found that American viewers value personalization in the services they use.
For instance, 68% of respondents said that they prefer to choose individual programs to watch on an on-demand basis, versus a mere 13% that lean towards the pre-programmed, linear channels of cable or broadcast TV.
Additionally, nearly half of Future Today's respondents value the personalized content and recommendations that streaming services offer viewers, compared to less than a third (28%) that prefer standardized services instead.
And although it's safe to say that few people enjoy advertisements regardless of the media they consume, the survey showed that the ads on streaming services are twice as likely to be relevant to a viewer than those on cable or broadcast TV.
Methodology: Future Today polled a statistically relevant sample of over 1,000 adults (ages 18 and up) across the U.S. between June 15-30, 2021.