Forty percent of U.S. adults who watch free, ad-supported live streaming services (FASTs) and/or free on demand services (FVODs) report having increased their FAST viewing time over the past year — and two-thirds of these consumers decreased time viewing other streaming and linear TV services, according to a survey by CTV research firm Aluma Insights.
One-third of adults who increased FAST time decreased time spent watching paid subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) services, 23% decreased time spent watching broadcast and legacy cable/satellite pay-TV services, and 22% decreased time spent watching virtual pay-TV streaming services like YouTube TV.
“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,” said Michael Greeson, founder and principal analyst at Aluma Insights. “Given how rapidly the retail prices of paid services are increasing, we expect not only that more viewers will turn to free streaming services for TV content, but they will spend more time watching them.”
This is especially problematic for large media and tech companies that own both paid and free TV services, such as Paramount Global, Amazon, Fox and Google, which must find ways to window content between the paid and free models to minimize viewing cannibalization.
Consumers most likely to report an increase in FAST viewing include those over 55, those with annual household incomes under $50,000, and adults with children under 18 living at home.
The main reasons cited by those who increased FAST viewing time include: Free services have more shows they enjoy watching (selected by 48%); it’s easier for them to find something interesting to watch on free streaming services (46%); substituting for a pay-TV service they have cancelled (23%); and substituting for SVOD services they have cancelled (22%).
In July, Aluma Insights surveyed nearly 1,900 U.S. adults who use FASTs and/or FVODs about which of 40 such services they use, how frequently they view them, their contribution to TV viewing time, and their value relative to paid services such as Netflix, among other important usage characteristics.