Streaming Subscribers Show Strong Preference for Their Services Over Live TV

February 28, 2023

TV viewers are much more likely to be finding their new favorite shows on a streaming service than on live TV. But even if a show or movie is available at the same time on both a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service and live TV channel, streaming service subscribers will prefer watching it on the paid streaming service by a strong margin, according to research from Aluma.

Indeed, SVOD viewers are twice as likely to prefer a paid streaming service than a regular live TV channel for watching new shows. The gap is particularly acute among youth: some three-quarters of SVOD subscribers ages 18-24 would prefer to watch a new show on a paid streaming service, compared to just 14% on regular live TV and 11% without a preference.

There’s a clear linear correlation between age and preference, with SVOD enthusiasm declining alongside each older age bracket. Even so, it’s not until the oldest age cohort – the 65+ bracket (who represent the lone holdouts for traditional TV) – that preference for watching a new show on live TV (37%) overtakes watching it on a paid streaming service (28%), and even then only by a fairly narrow margin.

The reasons that subscription services are preferred center around less advertising, watching shows at the viewer’s convenience, being a destination where viewers watch shows most of the time, and ease in finding content to watch. These latter reasons are more prominent among youth, whereas the presence of less ads is a more important reason for older viewers.

This shift in preference to streaming over the past few years has led to a milestone in the way Americans watch content. According to MRI-Simmons’ latest Cord Evolution Study [excerpt download page], 2022 marked the first time in which Cordless Americans (51% share) surpassed Corded Americans (48% share). (This had previously been forecast to occur this year by eMarketer.)

As recently as 2016, 78% share of Americans were Corded, versus just 21% who were Cordless.

The single most important reason identified in the study for cutting the cord? Viewers are watching via streaming services instead.

In fact, when asked to estimate the distribution of viewing time across platforms, respondents to the study estimated a majority of their time with time-shifted streaming (41%) or live streaming (13%), as opposed to just 29% share for live traditional cord and 17% for time-shifted DVR/VOD. The biggest shift since 2016 has been the share of time spent with time-shifted streaming, which has essentially doubled.

About the Data: The Aluma Insights results are based on a December survey of 1,947 US adult broadband users in charge of purchasing media services for their household and who watch SVOD services on TV.


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