4 DEC 2023

Streaming vs linear: how are Americans watching TV?

Across the Samsung Universe, 97% of viewers stream content. And yet, the majority of households (70%) watch both linear and streaming, according to a new report published by Samsung Ads.

4 DEC 2023
Imagen El mercado VOD de Turquí­a elige YouTube como plataforma predilecta

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Across the Samsung Universe, 97% of viewers stream content. And yet, the majority of households (70%) watch both linear and streaming. Taken on its own, however, this fact belies just how far along we are into the Streaming Era, according to a new report published by Samsung Ads.

Samsung Ads data bear out what has become conventional wisdom – the pandemic has accelerated streaming adoption. The inverse is also true – linear viewing has become the realm of a small audience. While the majority of Samsung households watch some linear TV, just 24% of households fall into our “mostly linear” bucket. These are the last TV viewers to spend more time with linear TV than with streaming. Yet, they account for 91% of all linear consumption. These mostly linear viewers watch so much content that they also account for 12% of streaming viewing.


The shift to the Streaming Era leads to a new reality for TV advertisers, the report assured. Based on an analysis of Nielsen data covering 24 national campaigns in 11 categories, the best-case scenario for linear-only media plans is a national reach of 60% of adults 18-49. But because of how skewed linear viewing has become, to achieve this reach advertisers must plan more than 1,500 GRPs and TV networks end up delivering the majority of impressions to the small portion of heavy linear viewers.

The practical reach of linear TV is now just 50% of adults 18-49. Past this threshold, additional impressions are more likely to add frequency to the already-reached audience than to reach new viewers. By shifting linear budgets to CTV, advertisers can maximize their national reach. Medium and light linear viewers spend the majority of their viewing time in streaming. CTV budgets reach these linear audiences in addition to cord-cutters and cord-nevers.


By expediting the shift from linear to streaming, the pandemic indirectly created an explosion in streaming offerings. As viewers have shifted their TV time from linear to streaming, they have also come to embrace ad-supported streaming content. Three-quarters (74%) of Samsung households watch ad-supported streaming.

In the second quarter of 2022, time spent with ad-supported streaming grew by 28% versus the year prior. Ad-supported streaming now accounts for more streaming time than ad-free subscription streaming. While traditional media companies have rushed into the ad-supported streaming space, the majority of ad-supported content and viewers are outside of their walls.

Two-thirds of ad-supported streaming minutes are consumed outside of traditional network and vMVPD apps. More importantly, the major network apps account for just 5% of AVOD minutes, on average. While the growth of networks’ AVOD consumption has been widely publicized, it is just a small portion of the total AVOD landscape, which is seeing the same rate of increase in usage, the report assured.