The pandemic has kept many Americans home and driven them to seek out even more streaming video content from even more streaming video services.
According to new research from the NPD Group, the average U.S. consumer now relies on seven different streaming video services – both subscription and free, ad-supported – up from five in April 2020. NPD’s conclusions are based on an online consumer survey of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers conducted in October.
“By and large, consumers want the ability to customize their viewing experience, bundling both paid and free services that provide them with the content they want, when they want it,” said John Buffone, executive director and industry analyst for NPD’s Connected Intelligence practice.
The survey results also showed that access to exclusive content is a primary reason cited for checking out subscription services, driving more than 25% of engagement. NPD said exclusive content is also driving consumer desire to switch services. Fully 21% of SVOD users in October, compared to 14% in April, are decreasing engagement or cancelling subscriptions because they feel other services offer better content.
The same survey found that free streaming services grew from 39% of viewers in April to 47% in October. NPD said that while nearly all free streaming services experience lower churn than average since consumers do not have to subscribe, they also experience lower engagement rates. The firm said this puts added pressure on free streaming services to differentiate their content to avoid declining user engagement.
“Amidst COVID-related content production challenges, viewers are increasing the number of streaming services they use, as they seek to find content that captures their interest. Competition will become an even greater challenge for services. Both now, as viewers try more options and later as production ramps up and each service gets new programming,” Buffone said.