Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Streaming is growing increasingly dominant, but consumers don’t want to pay for it

The popularity of streaming is continuing to skyrocket among all age groups in the UK, reaching 73% of people. However, the cost-of-living crisis has meant that many people are now accessing paid-for services for free using someone else’s login, according to research from The Trade Desk.

Compared to last year, UK viewers are spending 40% more time watching streaming and catch-up content, while linear TV is receiving 47% less of their time. And, despite this trend being driven viewers in the 18- to 34-year-old age group, it’s a trend happening across age groups. In fact, 43% of those aged 35 to 54 are watching more streaming content than last year, with 54% watching less traditional linear TV.

Despite the high levels of engagement with streaming platforms, subscription services have a lot to think about, thanks to the economic difficulties currently facing consumers. 54% of UK viewers are accessing subscription services for free via other people’s accounts. And, for those paying for the services, 40% won’t spend more than £20 a month on streaming services. Moreover, 23% of viewers refuse to pay anything at all. This all makes sense when you take into account that 29% of those surveyed cited cost as the main reason for unsubscribing from streaming services.

The issues that consumers have with paying for streaming services presents an opportunity for platforms to introduce ad-funded options, however, with 51% of consumers open to using a free service funded by advertising or a cheaper version with some ads. Furthermore, 60% of UK viewers are open to ads if they can watch an entire episode for free without further interruption.

Advertisers are paying close attention to this feeling amongst consumers, with 64% likely to increase their spending on connected TV in the next 12 months. And those who plan to increase their investment are increasingly looking to advertise against trusted premium content, with 76% planning to spend more on CTV in 2023 as a result.

“The TV landscape is undergoing a transformation that’s redefining the viewing experience, as well as the advertising industry as a result,” said Dave Castell, TV Partnerships Lead at The Trade Desk. “The rise of streaming has ushered in a new model of TV consumption, in which every content creator is providing the consumer with choice. And consumers expect to watch what they want, when they want, and how they want. This unlocks greater opportunities for advertisers to connect with new, diverse audiences than they’ve ever had before.”