54% Of Smart TVs Now Used For Streaming Only, Just 5% For Pay-TV/OTA Content Only

The percentage of U.S. smart TVs used exclusively for watching streamed content rose from 45% in Q4 2021 to 54% in this year’s third quarter, according to the latest quarterly TV market trends report from ACR data provider Inscape. 

The percentage of smart TVs used to view content exclusively from traditional cable, satellite or over-the-top/OTA sources dropped from 9% to just 5% during the same period. 

And the percentage of smart TVs used to watch both streamed content and traditional pay-TV and/or OTA content declined from 46% to 41%. 

Inscape used data from 22 million-plus Vizio U.S. smart TVs, and a nationally representative panel, for the analysis.

Fully 94% of total streaming time in Q3 was driven by viewers who only (64.6%) or mostly (29%) streamed on their smart TVs. 

That means that the 54% of smart TV viewers who make up 65% of smart TV viewing time are not reachable by traditional cable/satellite/OTA advertising — a compelling argument for including some of the ad-supported tiers now being offered by the leading streaming services in media buys, notes Inscape. 



Looking at Q3 over the past three years, streaming has increased its share of viewing time in U.S. TV households by 9.4 percentage points, with the largest gains occurring in Q3 2023 (up six points).

As a result, streaming’s share of viewing time has increased from 46.5% to 55.9% in Q3 since 2021, while cable/satellite has fallen from 44.3% to 34.9%. 

Gaming and over-the-air antenna (OTA) viewing shares have remained relatively consistent. 

A month-by-month analysis of streaming’s share of viewership shows that it set a new record during the Q3 2023 summer months, when U.S. TV households spent 56% of their monthly view time streaming. 

The growing number of cord cutters gets ample coverage, but Inscape reports that the numbers of consumers who still have cable or satellite services but have stopped watching them entirely is also rising -- increasing from 4% per quarter to 5.7% per quarter since Q4 2022, and averaging 4.4% per quarter.

In addition, “quiet quitters” — cable/satellite subscribers who have sharply reducing their viewing time on these services — are on the rise. Between Q3 2022 and Q3 2023, 11.9% cut their viewing time on those services by 75% or more, and 11.1% cut viewing time by between 50% and 74%.

Meanwhile, the average number of apps used per smart TV doubled, from 2.6 to 5.4, between Q4 2021 and this year’s third quarter. 

Importantly, however, cable/satellite/OTA continue to own sports and news viewing, commanding 76.7% and 81.8% viewing shares, respectively, in Q3.

More specifically, those platforms accounted for 71.9% of NFL viewing, 71.3% of college football viewing, and 77.8% of viewing of the two Republican presidential candidates’ debates during the quarter.

3 comments about "54% Of Smart TVs Now Used For Streaming Only, Just 5% For Pay-TV/OTA Content Only".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 16, 2023 at 7:52 a.m.

    Of course, there is a higher percentage of streaming usage via more modern, recently purchsed ACR sets. Is that a surprise? Yet, streaming accounts for only 35-40% of the average viewer's total TV time on whatever sets---ACR or "Dumb"---- that people across the nation are using and for all homes including those without ACR sets.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 16, 2023 at 8:51 a.m.

    Whistling in the dark, Ed.
    Legacy channels have lost two-thirds of their value by your estimate.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 16, 2023 at 9:42 a.m.

    Hi Douglas---good to hear from you directly.

    As for whistling in the dark, data can be interpreted in many ways. For example, "legacy TV" has indeed lost share of viewing---it was once about 99%, now its only 50%. However, the base between those  periods also changed. Then, an average person devoted only 3.5 hours per day to "TV", now---with much more content available---it's more like 4.5 hours and some sources place the figure a bit higher. Also, the number of commercials presented has greatly increased on linear TV so the GRP decline where advertiser "audience" tonnage is concerned is not as great as the average minute rating decline.

    We just did an interesting analysis which will go out to our MDI Direct subscribers shortly. We took the pre-cable era (mid 1960s) , the cable at its high point era ( 2010 ) and the current situation, including streaming, and estimated how many commercials the average TV home adult resident not only watched per day but how many of these actually registered its message. Result: The pre-cable figure for message registration was around 17-18 per day. This rose to  32 about 15 years ago---before streaming made its mark but now it's declining --to 22--23----due to reduced attention rates, and  viewing to ad-supported TV. So, yes, advertisers should be concerned---but you can't evaluate TV's "value" only by share of audience stats. It's much more complicated than that.

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