Preference For Ad-Supported Streaming Services Increases With Age

How much do the viewing habits of older consumers differ from those of other generations?

For pharma and other advertisers targeting older demographics, the good news about adults over 50 is that they’re even more open to ad-supported streaming services than younger consumers.

That’s according to a survey of 3,000 Americans conducted in March by market researcher Savanta for healthcare advertising platform DeepIntent and Roku.

More than two-thirds (65%) of those 50 to 59, 69% of those 60 to 69, and 63% of those 70 and older who stream said that they actually prefer cheaper, ad-supported services over more expensive ad-free services (chart top of page).

In comparison, ad-supported services are preferred by 55% of those 18 to 29, and 61% of those 30 to 49.

The survey also confirms that over-50s are more likely than younger viewers to keep traditional cable/satellite subscriptions, and less likely to stream — although overall, they are more likely to watch both linear and connected TV (CTV).



Half of those over 60 said they prefer pay-TV services, and 57% of those over 50 reported still having cable or satellite TV subscriptions — compared, for instance, to GlobalData’s report of 47% pay-TV penetration across all U.S. homes in 2022. 

While nearly all of the older cord-cutters surveyed for DeepIntent/Roku said that they’re happy with that decision — just 4% plan to resubscribe — many said they have no intention of canceling. 

Still, about half of those 50 to 54 and 45% of those 55 to 59 report streaming. That’s not all that far off from the 56% of those 40 to 44 who reported streaming, although considerably lower than the roughly 70% who report streaming in the 18 to 39 age segments.  

As the research report also notes, eMarketer reported last September that 52 million of the nation’s 225 million CTV users, or 23%, are over 55 years old. 

Yet, according to a Roku analysis, across all pharma campaigns run on its platform in last year’s third quarter, 92% of all reach was unique to linear TV. 

DeepIntent reports similar pharma client campaign patterns. One medication brand found that CTV extended reach to 37,000 unique patient households, and just 4% of households were exposed to both linear and CTV ads. 

All of which points to the need for advertisers targeting older consumers to cast a wider net by complementing linear with CTV. 

On other fronts, over-50s' reported average number of streaming services was 4.1. As one comparison point, Hub Entertainment found U.S. households as a whole having an average 6.5 video services (including free, ad-supported and AVOD as well as ad-free subscription video-on-demand/SVOD services) in 2022. 

The DeepIntent/Roku survey found the rest of older consumers’ viewing behaviors more or less on par with those of younger generations, with 79% reporting that they stream; 21% that they stream exclusively (no linear); and 52% saying they’re streaming more than last year.

Their favorite services include Netflix (which would seem to make it likely that  significant numbers of older viewers will switch to Netflix’s new ad-supported tier), Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+ and The Roku Channel. 

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