Deloitte Survey: 82% of U.S. Consumers Subscribe to at Least One Paid Streaming Video Service

The average U.S. subscriber has four paid video streaming services, and 82% of U.S. consumers subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service, according to Deloitte’s annual “Digital Media Trends” survey, 15th edition.

In addition, 55% of respondents now watch a free ad-supported video service.

Subscribers cite an increase in price as the biggest reason they would cancel a paid video, music or gaming service.

The online survey of 2,009 U.S. consumers was conducted in February 2021.

Streaming music subscribers pay for an average of two paid music services, and those who subscribe to gaming services pay for an average of three.

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For Generation Z, playing video games is their No. 1 favorite entertainment activity (26%), followed by listening to music (14%), browsing the Internet (12%), and engaging on social platforms (11%). Only 10% of Generation Z say that watching TV or movies at home is their favorite form of entertainment (which is No. 1 for all other generations).

Watching TV and movies at home continues to be the overall favorite entertainment option, with 57% ranking it in their top three (out of 16 entertainment activities). However, only 10% of Generation Z say that watching TV or movies at home is their No. 1 favorite form of entertainment. Playing video games is Generation Z’s favorite entertainment choice (26%), followed by listening to music (14%). Watching TV and movies was their fifth choice for entertainment.

When asked what factors caused people to cancel a paid video, music or gaming service, an increase in price was the biggest reason.

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However, from October 2020 to February 2021, Deloitte found that the churn rate for streaming video services is still hovering around 37%.

Other findings include:

  • Content (35%) and cost (46%) are the most important factors in deciding to subscribe to a new paid streaming video service.
  • Fifty-two percent find it difficult to access content across so many services, and 49% are frustrated when a service doesn’t make good recommendations for them.
  • Fifty-three percent of those surveyed are frustrated by needing multiple service subscriptions to access the content they want.
  • Sixty-six percent get frustrated when content they want to watch is removed from a service.

 

“Not only are American consumers more reliant than ever on digital media and entertainment, information gathering and social connection, there is also more competition for audiences among a crowded field of entertainment options,” Kevin Westcott, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader, said in a statement. “This requires consumers to ‘dance’ between services introducing frustrations as they try to manage multiple subscriptions and keep track of their favorite content. Media and entertainment companies with a deeper understanding of customer concerns about content, cost and ad-tolerance across all entertainment options and generations, can cultivate long-term relationships and reduce churn.”

Generation Z has strikingly different entertainment preferences, often seeking video games and music over watching TV and movies — unlike older consumers who are “video first,” according to the survey. As early adopters, Generation Z may actually influence the behaviors of Millennials and Generation X — and possibly younger generations that follow them, according to Deloitte.

Findings about content preferences include:

  • Eighty-seven percent of Generation Z are playing video games daily or weekly on devices such as smartphones, gaming consoles and computers.
  • A strong majority of Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X agree that during the pandemic video games have helped them stay connected to other people and get through difficult times.
  • Close to half (46%) say that video games have taken away from other entertainment time.
  • For all generations, listening to music is a top-three favorite entertainment activity. Around 60% of respondents have a paid streaming music service, and the same amount have used a free, ad-supported music service.
  • For those who pay, the library of music was the primary reason, followed by an ad-free and reasonably priced experience. For those using a free, ad-supported music service, zero cost was the primary reason, followed by ease of access and a broad range of content.

 

Social media is a gateway to entertainment and information, but trust is a concern, according to survey respondents. Beyond connection and sharing, social media services have become a gateway for consuming music, video, games and news. However, there is tension between the value that consumers get from social media and the challenges of establishing trust, responsibility for content and the role of regulation. Consumers value social media, but they want more control over their data, and information that is more trustworthy.

Findings about social media include:

  • Half of Generation Z rank social media as the No. 1 way they prefer to get news, whereas only 12% prefer to get news from network or cable TV. Conversely, 58% of Boomers say they prefer news on network or cable TV, and only 8% look to social media first for news stories.
  • While more people, across generations, go to social media for news, 67% don’t trust the news they see on these services.
  • For Generation Z, the top two activities on social media are listening to music, followed by playing video games.
  • Consumers are divided around the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election; 43% of respondents felt that social media companies did a good job managing misinformation, while conversely 44% of respondents felt that they could have done more.
  • Seventy-seven percent of respondents believe that the government must do more to regulate data collection and use.
  • Forty-five percent said they are willing to pay for social media if it didn’t collect their data.

 

“It’s clear that consumers like the convenience of social media as a delivery platform for everything from entertainment to news, however they also want to trust that social media companies are committed to distributing truthful, reliable information while protecting their own personal data,” Jana Arbanas, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. telecom, media and entertainment sector leader, said in a statement. “By building trusted and equitable relationships with consumers that address the need for more transparency, agency, privacy and security, social media services can continue to build on their success as dependence on their platforms continues to grow.”

As more consumers use advertising supported digital entertainment services, ad-related preferences and expectations around personalization and privacy vary across consumer segments and media, according to the survey. Some people welcome ads as a way to get more content while managing costs, building their own set of go-to services; others will do whatever they can to avoid advertising.

Findings about ads include:

  • Forty percent of U.S. consumers note that they would prefer to pay $12 a month for a streaming video service with no ads, versus 60% of consumers who would accept some ads for a reduction in monthly subscription costs.
  • Forty-five percent of consumers agreed they would rather pay than have ads on their music streaming service. For Millennials, 67% say they would rather pay.
  • For those that subscribe to a gaming service, adding or increasing the amount of advertising are the top reasons they would most likely cancel or stop using a paid service.
  • Younger generations say that social media influencers and ads on social media are the two most persuasive channels influencing their buying decisions (55% of Generation Z and 66% of Millennials say that ads on social media are influential versus 49% of Generation X and 13% of Boomers).
  • Sixty-two percent of Generation Z and 72% of Millennials would rather see ads personalized to their likes and activity than generic ones. However, only 40% of consumers overall said they would be willing to provide more personal information to receive advertising targeted to their interests.
  • Forty-three percent of consumers (39% of Generation Z and 54% of Millennials) say they would associate content that included hate speech with ads that are displayed nearby.

Apple Responds to Spotify Complaint

Apple March 15 responded to Spotify’s decision to file a complaint against Apple Music with the European Commission citing unfair business practices, including taxes and restrictions on tech and user-enhancements, among other issues.

Spotify ended its most-recent fiscal period with 87 million paid subscribers, compared with about 50 million for Apple Music. Both services operate through the App Store, which is owned and operated by Apple — and at the center of Spotify’s gripe.

Specifically, Swedish-based Spotify takes issue with the 30% tax it and other digital services must pay utilizing Apple’s payment system. If the service opts out of the payment platform, Spotify alleges Apple restricts how it can communicate with its subscribers outside the app.

“In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple,” Spotify founder/CEO Daniel Elk wrote in a March 13 post.

In a 1,124-word response on its website, Apple said Spotify wants to enjoy the benefits of the App Store without paying for them.

“Spotify has every right to determine their own business model, but we feel an obligation to respond when Spotify wraps its financial motivations in misleading rhetoric about who we are, what we’ve built and what we do to support independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators of all stripes,” Apple wrote.

The tech giant said the App Store has created “many millions of jobs,” generating more than $120 billion for developers while creating new industries such as subscription music streaming via through businesses like Spotify started and grown entirely in the App Store ecosystem.

“After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace,” Apple wrote.

The iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch creator said the 30% tax imposed on app payments drops to 15% after one year.

Apple said the majority of Spotify customers use their free, ad-supported product, which makes no financial contribution to the App Store. A significant portion of Spotify’s users come through partnerships with mobile carriers, which Apple claimed generates no App Store contribution but requires Spotify to pay a similar distribution fee to retailers and carriers.

“Even now, only a tiny fraction of their subscriptions fall under Apple’s revenue-sharing model. Spotify is asking for that number to be zero,” Apple wrote.

“Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they’re leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that’s wrong.”