Older consumers tuning in to OTT as subscription rates climb 6 percent

Don't turn attention away from older viewers just yet: Over the top viewing by seniors over 55 is continuing to swing upward, a Centris report says, with subscriptions to services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) increasing from 18 to 24 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Centris seniors broadband access
Centris senior OTT use

(Fig. 2: Seniors are on par with other age groups when it comes to broadband access. Fig. 4: Half of seniors use OTT services. (Charts courtesy of Centris)

Even though senior viewership is lower compared to younger age groups, half of the seniors in the 55-64 age group surveyed by marketing research firm Centris used OTT services in the past 30 days, and 31 percent of those over 64 did the same. Additionally, 74 percent of seniors surveyed have access to broadband, allowing them to use OTT services. That's on par with the overall U.S. average at 74 percent.

The survey also found that pay-TV subscriptions among seniors are down slightly year over year, from 88 percent to 86 percent.

Centris surveyed nearly 11,000 households with seniors aged between 55 and 64 in Q4 2012 and Q4 2013 when compiling the report. It also surveyed just over 6,000 seniors aged 64, and more than 4,600 seniors older than 64, in both periods. The research is part of Centris' Evolution of Video Tracking Study, an ongoing program that surveys 10,000 households per month.

"Viewers who are 55 and older continue to lag the general population in use of over-the-top video streamed over the Internet," the report said. "However, half of those 55 to 64 and three in ten 65+ year-olds have streamed some type of video in the past month."

While better access to broadband and growing awareness of the OTT options available are likely big drivers of seniors' increased use of OTT services, the slight dip in pay-TV subscribership may indicate some dissatisfaction with what cable MSOs have to offer. A Nielsen report found that while Americans on average have access to 189 linear TV channels, a record high, they watch only 17 of them on a regular basis.

The numbers also jibe with a recent Amdocs study that said that 42 percent of U.S. households will have some type of OTT service by 2017.

And, like every other age group, seniors will probably clamor for the same improvements to both OTT and linear quality that others want to see.

"Issues like customer service, video quality, content and especially access to content are kings globally," Nizar Assanie, vice president of research for IE Market Research, said during a Dream Screen panel session at The Cable Show recently.

For more:
- see this report summary

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