Streaming video growth slowing but not stalling – study

While last year's pandemic-fueled surge in streaming video usage may be over, Americans are still watching more OTT video than ever before and the big three streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu – are doing just fine, thank you.

These are two of the main findings of a new study by Leichtman Research Group released Tuesday. The study, based on a phone and online survey of 2,000 US households nationwide over June and July, found that 82% of all households now have at least one subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) or direct-to-consumer (DTC) service. Some 53% have three or more services and 27% have five or more services.

Further, the Leichtman survey revealed that 78% of all US households have signed up for at least one of the big three streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. While that's unchanged from last year's results, it's still up from the pre-pandemic totals of 74% in 2019 and 59% back in 2016.

Moreover, the study found that 58% of American households now subscribe to more than one of the big three streamers. That's up from 55% in 2020, 51% in 2019, and 28% in 2016. As a result, the mean number of SVoD/DTC services among all households has climbed to 3.1, up from 2.9 a year ago.

Perhaps just as notably, 41% of all adults reported streaming a top SVoD service daily, up just slightly from 40% in 2020, but much more markedly from 33% in 2019 and 24% in 2016.

"The percent of households with a top SVoD service held steady in 2021, and those using any of these services daily also levelled off after being pulled forward last year due to the coronavirus pandemic," noted Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, in a statement. But, he added, "while the breadth of households with a major SVoD service is similar to last year, those with multiple top SVoD services continued to expand."

In another significant finding, the new Leichtman study indicated that there's relatively little churn occurring among the three leading streaming services. As reported first by Fierce Video, Netflix scored the best on the churn scale, with some 4% of households saying they had subscribed in the past year but no longer did. Amazon Prime and Hulu clocked in at 5% and 6%, respectively. Leichtman noted that such churn rates are comparable to the 4% annual churn rates of legacy pay-TV services.

The Leichtman study results generally jibe with other recent surveys that show streaming video usage still on the rise, if no longer soaring at 2020 growth rates. A recent study by TiVo, for instance, found that the average number of services used by US consumers jumped to 8.75 from 6.9 a year ago, a 27% increase. Survey respondents used an average of five paid services and 3.7 free, ad-supported services, that study said.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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