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More than two-thirds (69%) of US households have a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service from one of the major players, up from 64% last year, 59% in 2016, and 52% in 2015. That’s according to the latest annual survey on the topic from the Leichtman Research Group (LRG), which also finds that cord-stacking remains prevalent, though maybe not for too long.

In analyzing the breakdown of video subscription behavior in TV households, LRG found that:

  • A slight majority (53%) have both a pay-TV service and an SVOD service;
  • One-quarter have a pay-TV service but no SVOD service;
  • Some 16% only have an SVOD service; and
  • 6% have neither service type.

This implies that 78% of households continue to subscribe to pay-TV, a figure that would continue a slow descent from 88% in 2010.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of so-called “cord-stacking” makes sense in light of research suggesting that streaming services tend to complement rather than replace pay-TV services. Indeed, a recent report from Nielsen found that most streaming device users still rely on traditional pay-TV, while on the flip side a TiVo study showed that pay-TV subscribers have high rates of SVOD usage.

It’s clear that SVOD services are growing in popularity: 63% of households with a service have more than one, per the LRG data, up from 51% last year. All told, that translates to 43% of US households having more than one SVOD service, more than double the number (20%) from 2015. One piece of research suggests that this could be due to the major services being complementary, with Netflix mostly used for original shows, Amazon Prime for movies, and Hulu for non-original shows.

The growing usage of SVOD – with 30% of adults now streaming such a service daily – clearly poses a threat to traditional TV. And last year’s report from LRG offered a sign that Netflix can be a substitute for traditional pay-TV (particularly as it grows to challenge live TV as the default first source of TV content). In that report, 75% of Netflix users said they also had pay-TV, but that was down from 85% of Netflix subscribers 5 years earlier.

Other results from LRG’s annual study are highlighted below.

  • Youth are the heaviest viewers. SVOD continues to be most popular with younger audiences, as a majority (52%) of 18-34-year-olds watch their SVOD service on a daily basis, compared to 31% of subscribers ages 35-54 and 11% of those ages 55 and up.
  • Non-TV devices grow in popularity. Almost half of the adults surveyed (46%) now watch video on non-TV devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets on a daily basis, up from 41% last year.
  • Password sharing’s more frequent with Netflix. More than one-quarter (28%) of people with Netflix agree that their subscription is shared with others outside their household. That compares with 22% with Hulu and 10% with Amazon Prime. Interestingly, a recent study from Ampere Analysis found password sharing to be less common, at just 8% in the US. However, it did find that password sharing was more prevalent with Netflix than with other SVOD services.

About the Data: LRG describes its methodology as follows:

“Emerging Video Services XII is based on a survey of 1,153 adults age 18+ throughout the continental U.S. The random sample of respondents was distributed and weighted to best reflect the demographic and geographic make-up of the U.S. The telephone survey (including landline and cell phone calls) was conducted in June-July 2018. The overall sample has a statistical margin of error of +/- 2.9%.”

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