69% Of Viewers Now Use Free Streamers, SVOD Costs Making Some Rethink Cable

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) of U.S. TV viewers use free streaming services at least monthly — sharply up from 42% in 2019, according to the 2023 edition of Horowitz Research’s State of Media, Entertainment & Tech: Subscriptions study.

The increase has been driven by the growing number and variety of free, ad-supported streamers (FASTs).

Respondents reported highest use of Peacock, Tubi, Pluto and YouTube.

Horowitz surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,200 TV content viewers 18 and older who are heads of their households.

On the subscription streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) side, with self-reported total average spending on these services now at more than $50 per month, just 33% of respondents who have dropped pay-TV services said they feel that they are saving a “really good amount” by having done so.

That contrasts with more than half of cord cutters saying the same when surveyed in 2019.

Notably, 32% also said that if the cost of all of their streaming services continues to increase, they might consider going back to cable.



Further, at least in this research, after years of decline in pay-TV/multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) subscriptions, penetration of traditional cable/satellite services seems to be remaining steady.

Consistent with last year, half (52%) of TV content viewers now report subscribing to pay-TV services, and overall customer satisfaction with those services among subscribers is high, at 80%.

Satisfaction numbers have increased slightly over the past few years as less happy customers abandon their MVPDs for streamed options, while pay-TV loyalists who derive a lot of value out of the service remain subscribed.

Respondents also expressed a growing desire for managed services to help control costs.

Already, one in three indicate that they pay for at least one of their streaming services in combination with another service, such as a bundle with another SVOD, through a service like Amazon Prime, or as a perk with a cell phone plan.

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