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Pandemic drives streaming 'subscription hopping' – study

Consumer "subscription hopping" among streaming services has gripped the market during a pandemic that has forced people to entertain more at home, TiVo found in its Q4 2020 Video Trends Report. That scenario has likewise been fueled at a time when a deluge of new premium streaming services have launched.

TiVo's study, based on a survey of 4,526 adults in the US and Canada, found that 15% had cancelled at least one video subscription due to the pandemic. Almost half (45%) cited household income as the prime reason, followed by "just in case" budget tightening (39%). A smaller group (35%) said they cancelled an OTT service because they weren't watching it often enough.

Here's how some of the individual streaming services, including SVoD and multichannel OTT-TV offerings, fared when consumers opted to jump out of a subscription.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)

On the other side, 25% said they added at least one new video subscription due to the pandemic, with 63% saying being home more often gave them more time to pony up, 38% saying they jumped on a special deal or offer, and 36% saying they were drawn in to stream a specific show.

The study also took a look at how consumers are bundling streaming and pay-TV services.

The top three video-service bundle among pay-TV customers included the pay-TV service itself, plus Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)

Among broadband-only subs, the top three-service bundle included Netflix, Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime video purchases/rentals, followed by a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)

The number of services per consumer was fairly similar among pay-TV and broadband-only consumers.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)

The study also found that consumers paid an average of $27.72 per month for their particular blend of SVoD subscriptions. Those with pay-TV subscriptions paid $25.62 per month for their additional SVoD services, while broadband-only customers paid an average of $30.88 per month for their SVoD subscriptions.

Consumers would clamor for a free, ad-based Netflix

TiVo noted that free, ad-supported streaming services continue to resonate with consumers.

The most popular advertising-based VoD streaming service (excluding YouTube) was Facebook Watch, followed by The Roku Channel, Crackle, Tubi, Pluto TV and NBCUniversal's Peacock, which offers a free, ad-based service, an ad-based premium subscription tier, and an ad-free version.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: TiVo Q4 2020 Video Trends Report)

TiVo noted that TiVo+, its relatively new free, ad-based streaming aggregation service, has seen average daily views jump 90% since September 2020.

About 79% of those surveyed said they'd rather use a free, ad-supported streaming service than subscribe to yet another paid service. And the vast majority (81%) wished that a service such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix offered a free, ad-supported version. Notably, Amazon has gotten into the free, ad-supported streaming game with IMDb TV.

Consumers are also getting more access to – and becoming more comfortable with – voice-based navigation systems.

Some 42% of consumers said they had access to a voice search platform in 2020, versus 31% in 2019. And 29% said they used voice search in 2020, compared to 18% in 2019. Those with access to voice search said they used it every day.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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