Recent announcements by HBO and CBS that they will be providing standalone OTT offerings have offered the latest signals of change in the TV business, and many expect those announcements to be the beginning of the end of the pay-TV bundle. These moves provide an interesting backdrop to recent survey results from TNS, which suggest that streaming might not be cannibalizing pay-TV programming.
The survey – fielded among almost 25,000 US households – found that pay-TV households that also stream video are twice as likely as those that don’t stream to have recently changed their level of service (25% vs. 12%). But, these streaming households were more likely to have upgraded (16%) than downgraded (9%) their level of service. By contrast, non-streaming pay-TV households were as likely to have downgraded (6%) as upgraded (6%) their service level.
According to TNS, this suggests that “streaming is contributing to an overall rise in consumer appetite – and demand – for video content, instead of simply stealing a finite share of Pay TV programming.” It’s a point also made in MarketingCharts’ recent data-driven dive into TV trends. Data contained in that report, TV in Context: Viewing Trends, Ad Spending, and Purchase Influence similarly finds that research surrounding the link between streaming video and decreased legacy TV usage or pay-TV cord-cutting is inconclusive, and that streaming video viewers may simply be more avid media consumers. In other words, they use streaming video largely to supplement rather than replace their traditional TV habits.
Returning to the TNS study, the survey results indicate that streaming video viewers who upgrade their pay-TV service are more likely to be younger, as one-third of households that upgraded service are adults under the age of 30. That’s another counter-intuitive result, given that youth are said to be more prone to cord-cutting. Perhaps that’s higher figures than these.)
Finally, pay-TV penetration has remained mostly steady, with the Q3 penetration rate of 81% being down just a point from 2 years ago.