Commentary

New Survey Suggests SVODers Like A Deal, Don't Like Ads

A new survey of 1,000 consumers by IBM Cloud (formerly Clearleap) has some interesting data about our subscription VOD habits that help define the contours of consumers' yen for over-the-top content providers. Like: Maybe they want a deal. 

For example, the data says only 14% subscribe to Amazon Prime specifically for its video content; 61% subscribed because an Amazon Prime subscription gets them free shipping on stuff they order from Amazon's warehouses; 7% didn't even know streaming video was part of the deal; and 18% don't watch it. Damn!

I've mentioned before that the Amazon Prime proposition always reminds me of the old Duz detergent, which used to make its biggest pitch by hyping free stuff Procter & Gamble shoved inside the box, like drinking glasses.  Looks like I was onto something. 

The actual lack of interest, the authors of this report state, "suggests" that the new ability to subscribe just to Prime Video for $8.99 a month (no free glasses!) should be kind of a non-starter. 

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In this survey 72% said they are Netflix subscribers; in second place, by several miles, is Amazon with just 14%

The IBM survey leaves a distinct impression SVOD users are bargain-oriented, or maybe just flat out cheap. Some 30% of them say someone else pays the SVOD bill. Many of these folks are sharing passwords, but as it turns out, mainly with their actual folks.

They share passwords with their family. Only 2% share with their non-blood friends. But 27% said they have used somebody else's password to take a video test drive before they subscribe--half of the millennials in the survey 'fessed up to that. But almost half (48%) say they just don't share.  And 62% of Amazon members don't share--because their shipping is connected to the membership.

The thievery (or at the least, borrowing) of subscriptions shouldn't be so shocking. HBO has always known it has far more viewers than it does actual subscribers; I seem to recall an executive who was corporately upbraided for publicly admitting that fact without enough apparent remorse. But digital SVOD thieves just continue a long tradition of sneaking in to the movies. 

Someday I should collect all the surveys I've read in which people verily swear loyalty to Netflix. That the deal here too. Forty percent said they cancelled some service before, mostly Hulu or Amazon. Only 30% said they've ever quit Netflix. Of all the problems one could have with an SVOD subscription, the one that tops the list is "too many ads" (27%), which even beats "too expensive" (25%). Sometimes I get the idea PBS really missed the gravy train all these years. It sold quality; it should have gone heavier on the commercial-free part.

Probably the part of the survey IBM cared most about was the quality of streaming itself. It would appear there's still a good market to help  make it better. Nearly half said buffering is their biggest tech problem, and buffering and "delayed starts" bothered three out of four survey participants.

This survey says two-thirds of its participants use some some SVOD service--a little higher than I've seen before. But almost without mention in the non-media press is how differently Americans are making their viewing choices, based on a lot more than just the best content available. It's a lot more than "what's on." 

pj@mediapost.com

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