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LeichtmanResearch vMVPD Adoption Apr2020Some 18% of US adults ages 18-44 currently subscribe to a virtual MVPD service such as Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, or AT&T TV NOW, according to recent figures [press release] published by Leichtman Research Group (LRG). This percentage is twice as high than among adults 45 and older (9%).

Both figures are up from last year, though only modestly so. In the 2019 version of this study, LRG found that 16% of 18-44-year-olds subscribed to a vMVPD service, as did 6% of survey respondents ages 45 and up. Last year, vMVPD services added more than 1 million new subscribers, though that was down from close to 2 million the year prior, per LRG.

So, where are subscribers coming from? Among the more than 6,000 adults surveyed for this latest report, the greatest proportion (44%) switched directly from a traditional (cable, satellite, or Telco) pay-TV service. But this isn’t a purely cord-cutting phenomenon, as 1 in 4 (26%) still have a traditional service. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 (18%) switched from another virtual MVPD provider.

In 2019, a study by GfK showed that among ‘cord-nevers’ that had never had pay TV, around one-quarter (27%) planned on signing up for a pay-TV service within six months – and that among those 3 in 10 intended to sign up to a vMVPD package (with 18-34-year-olds the most likely to see that in their future). The data from LRG suggests that at least some of these have taken the plunge, as 12% of those subscribing to a virtual MVPD were most recently not paying for a pay-TV service.

It appears there are a number of reasons that may be encouraging viewers to take up virtual MVPD packages. For example, while the TV/Internet Service Providers that offer pay-TV are among the firms where customers most frequently have a bad customer experience, satisfaction for virtual MVPD services is actually on the rise, with around three-quarters (76%) claiming to be very satisfied – a figure that has risen from 69% in 2018.

Content also appears to be a significant driver, as 42% of those with both a virtual MVPD and a traditional pay-TV service cite having more choices or options as the reason for combining these services. This aligns with streaming service findings from Nielsen, which showed that almost half of viewers say that one of the reasons they subscribe to additional paid video streaming services is to expand the content they have available to them. Indeed, the variety of options for viewing now on the market means that consumers have more choice in how they pay for and consume TV.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 54% of virtual MVPD households have three or more TV sets.
  • 95% with a virtual MVPD service also have an SVOD service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu – compared to 74% of traditional pay-TV subscribers, and 77% of non-subscribers in TV households.
  • 79% of all households have at least one SVOD or DTC streaming video service, and 44% have three or more of these services.

About the Data: Figures are based on a February 2020 online survey of 6,462 adults age 18+ from throughout the US, distributed and weighted to represent the population.

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