Survey: Nearly Half of American TV Viewers Have Already Cut the Cord

Non-pay-TV consumers are set to become the predominant TV consumer in the next year, according to new data from The Trade Desk. Based on answers of more than 4,000 adult respondents from April 27 to May 5, the fourth “Future of TV” survey found that 47% of American TV viewers are already cordless, while 44% of Americans with cable TV anticipate pulling back or cutting service in the coming year.

Cord-cutting accelerated as programming such as live sports became unpredictable through the COVID-19 pandemic and consumers’ appetite for on-demand content grew. The shift to connected TV appears to be solidifying, with the majority of TV viewers aged 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 (60% and 53%, respectively) already without cable. These age groups are among the most coveted by advertisers.

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Streaming skyrocketed in popularity — even for sports viewing, which has traditionally been a driver for linear TV viewing. According to the survey, only 19% of TV viewers are returning to their pre-pandemic sports viewing habits. Meanwhile, 44% who watch sports are choosing a primary viewing source outside of linear TV. That number increases to 65% among sports viewers aged 18 to 34.

“We are entering a new TV normal, where new streaming viewing models sit side by side with traditional TV formats,” Tim Sims, chief revenue officer of The Trade Desk, said in a statement.

Sims said the shift to Internet-connected TV presents an opportunity for marketers to reach streaming TV viewers with more precision and accuracy because they can apply data to marketing campaigns in a way that’s not possible with linear.

“It provides incremental reach that’s an important element of a comprehensive TV ad campaign,” Sims said.

The research also indicates the current TV content arms race cannot be financially sustained for providers or consumers without relevant advertising, and consumers are becoming more receptive to advertising even on CTV.

According to the study, more U.S. TV viewers report watching streaming content with ads (44%) than without ads (33%). Indeed, nearly two-thirds of U.S. TV viewers (64%) don’t want to spend more than $30 in total per month on streaming services, making free or lower-cost ad-supported services more attractive to consumers.

A separate survey of 150 advertisers found that 92% of marketers believe that CTV is as good as, or outperforms, linear-TV advertising. New advertising budgets support this view, with 45% of marketers increasing their CTV budgets over the last year. Among those who shifted budgets to CTV, 91% said they will maintain those shifts or increase investments in CTV.

These benefits are particularly apparent for marketers when thinking about TV event advertising. In fact, 74% said that buying CTV ads in conjunction with live sports events can be more cost effective and impactful than classic sports sponsorships.

“Today’s marketers are under a lot of pressure to prove the ROI of every advertising dollar, and that has encouraged marketers to think about how CTV can provide incremental value as part of a TV ad campaign,” Sims said. “Advertisers want better cross channel measurement and the ability to tie that measurement to actual business outcomes. That means CTV is becoming an increasingly important component of most contemporary marketing plans.”

Report: Adults Watching Video Daily on Connected TVs Declines

As the country emerges from the pandemic, adults streaming video on a connected television is declining slightly, according to new data Leichtman Research Group.

Based on a survey of 2,000 TV households in the United States, the report found that 39% of adults watch video on a TV via a connected device daily — compared with 40% in 2020, 31% in 2019, 19% in 2016, and 3% in 2011.  Younger individuals are most likely to use connected TV devices. Of those ages 18-34, 54% watch video on a TV via a connected device daily — compared with 43% of ages 35-54 and 22% of ages 55+.

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Leichtman reported that 82% of U.S. TV households have at least one Internet-connected TV device, including connected smart-TVs, standalone streaming devices (such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV stick or set-top box, Chromecast, or Apple TV), connected video game systems, and/or connected Blu-ray Disc players. This compares to 80% with at least one connected TV device in 2020, 74% in 2019, 65% in 2016, and 30% in 2011.

“Use of connected TV devices leveled off over the past year after being pulled forward due to the coronavirus pandemic last year,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Still, 60% of adults watch video on a TV via a connected device at least weekly.”

Other findings include:

  • 35% of adults with a pay-TV service watch video via a connected TV device daily — compared with 50% of pay-TV non-subscribers;
  • 60% of adults watch video via a connected TV device at least weekly — compared with 59% in 2020, 52% in 2019, 40% in 2016, and 10% in 2011;
  • 55% of TV households have at least one stand-alone streaming device — up from 49% in 2019, 33% in 2016, and 3% in 2011;
  • about 43% of all TV sets in U.S. households are connected smart-TVs — an increase from 32% in 2019, 19% in 2016, and 7% in 2014;
  • in 2021, mean reported spending on a new TV was about $530 — compared with about $795 in 2016; and
  • given a choice of screens, 78% prefer to watch video on a TV set, 11% on a computer, 8% on a smartphone and 3% on a tablet.

Xumo TV Joins Apple TV Platform

NBCUniversal’s Xumo TV has joined the Apple TV platform — now making the ad-supported VOD service with 10 million average monthly users available on three major streaming platforms, including Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

“According to Comscore’s most recent State of OTT report, more than 30% of Americans stream video via internet connected televisions,” Chris Hall, SVP of product at Xumo, said in a statement.

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NBCUniversal, which launched the Peacock SVOD service last summer, acquired Irvine, Calif.-based Xumo in January 2020 for $100 million as it sought to further diversify video distribution beyond premium cable.

“As streaming audiences grow, Xumo’s 200-plus diverse, free and popular channels are more widely accessible than ever, across all of the devices that people use the most,” Hall said. “With this level of distribution, we are continuing to deliver in-demand content to tens of millions of consumers.”

Tremor Video Seeks to Connect Viewer Emotion With Advertisers

Tremor Video, a TV data analysis firm, on May 11 deployed new software that offers marketers insight into viewers’ “emotional and psychographic intelligence” in the U.S. and Canada. Designed to maximize audience engagement and optimize campaign performance for advertisers across connected TV (CTV) and video, the software leverages a blend of facial coding and survey-based techniques.

CTV is any television used to stream video over the Internet. With the rise in streaming video on TVs, Tremor’s new EQ software attempts to connect brands’ messages with consumers on an emotional level, while driving enhanced performance of campaigns across all screens.

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“EQ exemplifies our … ability to empower our clients with innovative solutions that maximize the connective relationship between data, audiences, creative and delivery,” Anthony Flaccavento, chief revenue officer for Tremor Video, said in a statement.

The need to emotionally connect with consumers is particularly relevant in light of how quickly advertisers have to adjust their messaging with the pandemic and other events of the past year. Tremor Video claims its software can assist advertisers in fine-tuning campaign messaging to reach the most receptive audiences, drive brand uplift, favorability, advocacy, purchase intent and completed video view rates.

Indeed, Tremor says video completion rates are 38% higher for its data groups compared to third-party software.

“Finding unique ways to engage with our audiences is of paramount importance to our team,” said Dani Hussey, senior manager of brand marketing for Dropbox. “These solutions allow us to better understand the emotion-based profiles of our customers and leverage these insights to reach them in more relevant ways, while driving stronger results for our campaigns.”

TiVo, TCL Expand Intellectual Property Relationship

TiVo Jan. 21 announced a multiyear extension and expansion of its IP agreement with TCL, a consumer electronics brand and technology company.

TiVo, which helped invent the digital video recorder (DVR), has over the years invested in research and development to create software licensed to the media and entertainment industry. TiVo’s innovations make it easier for viewers to find, watch and store content across a multitude of platforms.

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“We believe this agreement further demonstrates the continued relevance of our IP portfolio in the consumer electronics space,” Samir Armaly, president of IP licensing of TiVo corporate parent Xperi, said in a statement. “The licenses provided under our expanded agreement will enable TCL to continue delivering the very best experience for its customers, even as the television industry undergoes rapid transformation and change.”

TiVo over the years has been embroiled in litigation with Comcast, Microsoft and Verizon, among others, as the market for digital entertainment distribution rapidly evolves and changes.

Jonathan King, VP of corporate and legal affairs with TCL, said the agreement with TiVo underscores the company’s commitment to recognizing patents.

“This expanded agreement further demonstrates TCL’s commitment and respect for intellectual property as we continue introducing industry-leading features and capabilities for our loyal users,” King said.

Report: 27% of U.S. Households Plan to Cut Cable TV in 2021

American households are cutting the cord on their cable TV subscriptions more rapidly than previously reported, according to a new survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers by The Trade Desk. The data shows 27% of U.S. cable TV subscribers are planning to cut their subscriptions by the end of 2021. That percentage is nearly double the 15% of cable subscribers who reported cutting the cord in 2020, and significantly higher than the approximate 3% annual decline cited separately eMarketer prior to 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated consumer behaviors and trends that are defining a new era of TV consumption. With more U.S. consumers working at home, many under increased budget pressure, and with the broader availability of streaming services, streaming consumption now accounts for 68% of TV viewing versus 28% for traditional TV viewing.

Even live sports can’t keep viewers tethered to traditional TV as more U.S. households turn from cable to streaming platforms to watch their favorite teams. After a pause in live sports caused by the pandemic, almost 39% of sports viewers are now watching live sports events via connected TV such as ad-supported streaming and social media platforms, according to the survey. Only 30% of U.S. consumers cite live sports as a reason for maintaining a cable TV subscription — significantly down from the 60% that cited live programming, including sports, just nine months previously.

“COVID has accelerated cord-cutting trends that were already underway, to a point where less than 50% of U.S. households today have a cable subscription,” Tim Sims, chief revenue officer of The Trade Desk, said in a statement.

Sims said the decline is not because consumers have fallen out of love with TV, but that there are now more convenient ways of consuming it. That even applies to traditional cable mainstays, such as live sports.

“As more broadcasters launch and expand their streaming services, these gaps are only going to widen,” he said.

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As Americans shift to connected TV, there’s a limit to their tolerance for subscription services. Fifty-one percent of U.S. consumers are unwilling to spend more than $20 in total per month on streaming subscriptions, according to the survey. Furthermore, TV viewers are more than five times more likely to prefer free or low-cost streaming TV with ads, over streaming services with higher monthly subscription fees with no ads (72% versus 14%).

Advertisers Follow the Audiences; Rethinking Upfronts and CTV Skills Development

As traditional TV consumption declines and CTV viewership continues to rise, marketers are embracing the CTV opportunity. A separate survey of 150 advertisers conducted with Advertiser Perceptions found that, among marketers who had revised their TV plans as a result of the pandemic, CTV ranks as the #1 channel choice as marketers reallocate campaign budgets. Furthermore, marketers state that CTV now represents 18% of their advertising spend moving forward, a significant acceleration from a standing start in recent years.

But this shift means that marketers must rethink their longstanding ad-buying habits, as well as the necessary skills investments in their teams, to capture shifting audiences. For example, the majority (59%) of linear TV buyers said they are making fewer upfront commitments in 2021, with ad dollars moving from traditional TV programming to CTV.

In addition, marketers are rethinking how they can better equip themselves with the skills and capabilities to develop the right teams to keep pace with the accelerated shift to CTV. According to the advertiser research, ad buyers will focus on CTV marketing skills in 2021, as 37% said they intend to hire new talent fluent in CTV. And more than half (55%) said they plan to take steps to ensure their current TV ad buying teams can navigate both linear and CTV channels.

Every aspect of the decision-making process of TV advertising, including measurement, frequency and creative, will have to evolve as more consumers shift to CTV. And marketers are recognizing just how critically important CTV is to their advertising strategies if they want to win the hearts and minds of consumers. According to the survey, the top focus areas for CTV ad buyers are:

  • The shift from a content-first to an audience-first approach — prime-time is now anytime, as marketers are no longer tied to a schedule.
  • More focus on integrated, cross-channel strategies — to improve the viewer experience, manage frequency and better target specific audiences.
  • Focus on non-traditional ad formats — especially shorter ads.

 

“The TV ad business is at a tipping point. Advertisers can reach more households via CTV than via traditional linear TV for the first time. That trend is not reversing,” said Sims.

Report: 35% of U.S. Consumers Have Tried AVOD During Pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to alter home entertainment consumer patterns. New data from video advertising platform Unruly found that 42% of survey respondents are watching more Internet-connected television, including 35% consuming ad-supported VOD content.

Unruly, which is part of Tremor International, surveyed nearly 1,800 U.S. consumers online in July 2020 for this study.

AVOD services include Pluto TV, Tubi, IMDb TV, The Roku Channel, Shout! Factory TV, Samsung TV and Redbox TV, among others.

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But as connected TV content consumption continues to accelerate, marketers are trailing behind with their media plans, according to the report. This year, eMarketer reports that 3.4% of U.S. marketers’ total ad spending will go on CTV — and that is only forecasted to grow to 4.7% in 2023.

Regardless, Unruly found that CTV advertising performs better among consumers than linear TV. After seeing an ad on TV, compared to linear TV viewers, ad-supported CTV users are reportedly 71% more likely to tell a friend about a brand; 53% more likely to search for a brand; 48% more likely to have an improved opinion of the brand; 52% more likely to buy a product; and 45% more likely to visit a store or website.

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As the pandemic has rapidly accelerated the growth of CTV, 79% of survey respondents said they would continue watching ad-supported streaming services. Despite ongoing growth of SVOD, 73% of survey respondents said they would prefer to watch their favorite TV show for free with ads rather than pay for an ad-free access.

Another 65% said they “actively” seek ways to watch TV programs and films free of charge; 74% of 35-44 year-old respondents said they look for ad-supported TV content, followed by 71% of the 45-54 demo and 63% of the 55+ demo.

Another 64% of respondents said they plan to reduce the amount they pay for TV services — 44% plan to do so by reducing paid subscriptions and 42% plan to cancel cable TV.

“U.S. consumers’ pivot to CTV is an opportunity for brands to reach audiences at scale in a highly targeted, personalized way that has, until now, not been possible,” Terence Scroope, VP of insights and solutions at Unruly, said in a statement.

New Body Blow for Pay-TV

The day before AT&T disclosed it lost nearly 900,000 pay-TV subscribers in 90 days, which included online TV, new data from The Trade Desk finds 64% of U.S. households with at least one screen have cut the cord with cable TV, are planning to cut the cord, or never subscribed.

Results are based on an online survey of 2,681 respondents from April 1-3. The survey also highlighted major differences in cord-cutting behavior by age group, including the fact nearly 75% of respondents 18-34 have little interest in pay-TV. That percentage declines among older respondents: 35-54 age group (64%) and 55+ (56%).

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The data is significant considering the 18-34 age group has long been coveted by advertisers because of its disproportionally high disposable income, because they are at a stage in life where they are starting to build long-term brand loyalties, and because they are trendsetters for all age groups.

While the majority of American households currently subscribe to cable, the research indicates that cord-cutting will accelerate in the future. The urgency of these shifts is only becoming more apparent as almost all U.S. consumers stay at home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Of those households that do still have cable TV subscriptions, 11% plan to cut the cord by the end of the year. That figure jumps to 18% within the 18-34 age group.

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These trends are expected to accelerate the longer that live sports programming remains suspended in the U.S. According to the survey, the majority of Americans, 60%, say watching live sports is the primary reason they have kept their cable TV subscriptions.

“With only a quarter of young adults having any long-term interest in traditional cable TV, in a few years we won’t be talking about linear or cable TV at all. It will all be online and streaming,” Brian Stempeck, chief strategy officer, The Trade Desk, said in a statement. “For broadcasters and advertisers, it’s now all about how quickly they can pivot to where the eyeballs are moving and many of them are already investing heavily in order to succeed in a world of connected TV.”

The survey suggests TV consumers favor ad-supported streaming over subscription-based streaming as more and more Americans watch TV content via connected devices such as smart TVs. Overall, 35% of the younger demo (18-34) would rather watch a free streaming service with advertising or some ads for a cheaper subscription, versus 31% who would prefer to pay for a subscription with no ads.

The preference for ad-supported services increases when the viewer receives value in return. For example, 66% of 18-to-34-year-olds would prefer to watch a streaming service with ads every other episode in order to lower their monthly streaming costs. That number drops to 55% for the 35-54 age group and 47% for the 55+ age group.

Younger age groups also have a larger appetite for ads that are relevant to their interests. By a ratio of 3-2, the 18-34 age group prefers tailored ads, the highest ratio of any age group.

The research also shows that the leading cause of frustration with streaming advertising among American subscribers is having to watch the same ad repeated multiple times (cited by 48% of subscribers). The second leading cause of frustration is having to watch too many ads overall (cited by 45%), followed by the number of ad breaks (cited by 37%).

“As more consumers shift to connected TV (CTV), broadcasters and advertisers can more easily address issues of ad frequency and ad volume, in ways that are not possible in a traditional TV environment,” Stempeck said.

The analyst said connected TV viewing affords advertisers the ability to work with an ad tech partner to understand who was exposed to an ad, even across devices, and can reduce ad frequency as a result. In addition, with CTV, advertisers can apply more data science to their advertising, making it more relevant to the consumer without compromising their privacy.

“This increases the value of the ads, which means lower ad volume, over time,” Stempeck said.

Research: More Than 52% of Broadband Households Report Watching Internet Video on a Connected TV

A majority (52%) of U.S. broadband households are watching online video on a TV that is connected to the internet, according to research from Parks Associates.

The study, 360 View: Digital Media and Connected Consumers, also finds that watching TV or movies at home is the most popular leisure activity among U.S. broadband households, with 55% selecting this among their top two favorite leisure activities.

“While the total number of hours consuming videos has declined, consumers are watching more internet video on the largest screen available,” said Billy Nayden, research analyst with Parks Associates, in a statement. “The number of hours consumers report watching video on a TV increased for the first time since 2014, with connected devices enabling internet video services on TV and shifting consumers away from PC and mobile viewing. As OTT competition becomes a battle for the living room, the challenge for device makers and content producers is finding the correct product mix to maximize both profit and utility.”

The study found subscriptions are the dominant business model for OTT services.

As more services emerge, many stakeholders fear an impending subscription overload in U.S. households, according to Parks.

“As consumers’ taste for OTT experimentation wanes, they will start to resist the push to add another monthly subscription to their households,” Nayden said in a statement. “Many providers are starting to lead with freemium and ad-based models, in anticipation of this pushback.”

Other findings were:

  • 19% of consumers subscribe to either Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and another OTT service, compared to 13% in 2017;
  • Consumers watched 25.7 hours of video per week in 2018, down from 29.5 hours per week in 2016;
  • Local broadcast/channels and programs are the most enjoyed type of programming.

Amazon Eyeing Branded TVs

Move over, Roku. Amazon reportedly is looking to enter the smart TV market.

The e-commerce behemoth’s connected TVs would be similar to Roku’s line of Chinese-made televisions featuring a proprietary operating system, voice-activated remote and embedded apps for over-the-top video.

While nothing official has been announced, the Amazon TV is being tested by DTG, a British product testing services used by manufacturers to demonstrate conformance to a variety of U.K. broadcast standards, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The media outlet – citing multiple sources – said Amazon is pursuing branded TVs after attempts to bring the BBC and major U.K. pay-TV operators into the Amazon Channels ecosystem failed.

Amazon, of course, already markets myriad branded streaming media devices, including Fire TV, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick and Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD, among others.

Roku launched its first branded TVs in 2014 with line of units manufactured by Chinese vendors such as TCL, Insignia, Hisense and Element, in addition to mainstream Japanese manufacturers such as Sharp, Hitachi, Philips, Sanyo and RCA.

The TVs – like the streaming media devices – offer myriad third-party apps such as Netflix, CBS All Access, HBO Now, PBS Kids, ESPN, Hulu, ABC TV, and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to an ad-supported Roku Channel, and easy access to over-the-air digital TV signals, cable, satellite and telecom connections.