Streamers Like Free Services, Binge-Watching, Internet Bundles

There's no such thing as a free lunch -- but when something is free, consumers often want it. Case in point: Even though consumers are increasingly subscribing to paid streaming video services, many devote a bit more time to viewing video via the free services.

Consumers watch streaming video content from the services they pay for about 35% of the time compared to about 40% of the time for free services, according to a new study from Deloitte. The study also reported that about half of U.S. consumers subscribe to paid streaming video. In addition, 60% of Millennials, Generation X and Generation Z subscribe to streaming video. Many watch on small screens or computers. The study said that those in Gen X watch about 40% of streaming video on mobile devices and computers, with Millennials at more than 50%.

These viewers are often binge-watching. About 73% of U.S. consumers and close to 90% of Millennials and Gen Z consumers binge-watch shows, tuning into three or more episodes in a session. Deloitte speculates that content producers might start distributing content in a way that  feeds this phenomenon by releasing feature-length movies as miniseries so that they can be watched in a binge session.

Whether bingeing or not, advertisers have to confront reality about ad-skipping, the study notes. Deloitte reports that more than 80% of consumers will skip an online video if they can, and more than two thirds of consumers say mobile ads are irrelevant.

In related news, the biggest pay-TV providers in the United States, representing about 95% of the market, lost nearly 800,000 video customers last year, according to a new report from Leichtman Research Group.

Meanwhile, the largest providers acquired about 2.7 million new high-speed Internet subscribers last year. These twin findings seem to underscore the direction of video viewing.

Interestingly, the Deloitte study said that two-thirds  of pay-TV subscribers keep their service because it is bundled with the Internet.

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