Pay-TV Viewers Account For Half of OTT Viewing Hours

July 12, 2019

There is no doubt that OTT has made its mark on video viewing in the US and is at least partly responsible for households cutting the cord. However, cable and satellite providers need not feel threatened by OTT, considering that Comscore’s latest The State of OTT report [download page] has found that two-thirds (65%) of OTT households in the US are also traditional TV subscribers.

Not only are the majority of OTT households also cable TV subscribers, but they command the largest percentage share of viewing hours compared to cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Around half (48%) of total OTT viewing hours came from households which also subscribed to cable or satellite.

That being said, these figures should be taken with a grain of salt considering that cord-cutters seem to be getting more of a viewing fix from OTT – while this group only makes up a 19% share of total OTT households, they account for a 32% share of OTT viewing hours.

In fact, when looking at the average OTT viewing hours per OTT streaming household in March 2019, cord-cutters streamed more than twice as many hours than cable and satellite subscribers (150 hours vs 63 hours). Falling somewhere in the middle, cord-never OTT households are viewing an average of 102 hours.

But with findings from GfK from late 2018 showing that 7 in 10 (71%) of pay-TV subscribers having no intention of cutting the cord, it’s clear that, even with the influx of OTT devices and services, subscription television is not going away, even as pay-TV services suffer from very low satisfaction ratings.

This is also apparent when looking at the amount of time viewers spend watching on each format. In March 2019, Comscore found that viewers spent a total of about 26.7 million hours (3-month average) or 247 hours per household watching live TV, compared to the 5.5 million hours (86 hours per household) spent viewing OTT content.

However, it does look as though viewers are starting to spend more time watching OTT content than content on their DVR. In December 2018, OTT total viewing hours narrowly beat out DVR (4.9 million vs 4.5 million hours). By the end of Q1 2019, this gap widened as OTT hours grew to 5.5 million, while DVR hours remained largely unchanged.

So, what are OTT viewers watching? Well, more than three-quarters (79% share) of the time spent viewing OTT content is done through what Comscore calls the ‘big four’ — Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video and Hulu. This comes as no surprise since not only has Netflix become indispensable for US television viewers, it is also number one for the simplest brand experience globally.

Furthermore, while Netflix and Amazon Video do not show ads to their subscribers, the OTT and connected TV landscape is accounting for a growing share of premium video ad views, meaning that advertisers still have healthy opportunities to reach their target audiences.

About the Data: The State of OTT is sourced from Comscore OTT Intelligence™, which is powered by OTT consumption data from 75+ OTT services and accounts for the overwhelming majority of OTT usage.

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