Forty percent of US adults that watch free TV streaming (FTS) services such as YouTube, Pluto TV, and Freevee reported an increase in time spent viewing the services compared with last year, two-thirds of which consequently decreased the time they watch other TV services, according to new research from Aluma Insights.
At the same time, one-third of adults that increased their use of FTS services consequently decreased the time spent watching subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix. Meanwhile, time spent watching broadcast and legacy pay TV services decreased 23% and time spent watching virtual pay TV services such as YouTube TV, 22%.
“While free TV streaming services are generally used as secondary or tertiary sources of content, they are putting a dent in the viewing of primary paid sources. Given how rapidly the retail prices of paid services are increasing, we expect not only will more viewers turn to free streaming services for TV content but they will spend more time watching them,” said Michael Greeson, Founder and Principal Analyst at Aluma Insights.
According to the report, this is especially problematic for large tech-media companies that own both paid and free TV services, as with Google, Amazon, Paramount Global, and Fox. Effectively windowing content between paid and free models is key to minimizing viewing cannibalization, Aluma Insights assures.
The main reasons why 40% of free TV streamers increased their viewing time include: free services have more shows they enjoy watching (selected by 48%); it is easier for them to find something interesting to watch on free streaming services (46%); substituting for pay TV service they had cancelled (23%); and substituting for SVOD services they had cancelled (22%).
The consumers segments most likely to have reported an increase in free TV streaming are viewers over the age of 55, living in households with incomes less than US$50,000, or those with children under 18 living at home.