Report: More households subscribe to streaming than traditional TV

David Ng
Los Angeles Times

For the first time, a higher percentage of households in the U.S. subscribe to a digital streaming service than to traditional pay television, according to the results of a new survey released Monday by Deloitte.

Deloitte’s 13th annual digital media trends survey found that 69 percent of respondents have at least one streaming video subscription, compared with 65 percent who have a traditional pay TV subscription. The finding underscores the continued popularity of services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, as more consumers become disenchanted with the high costs associated with cable and satellite packages.

The survey found that the average consumer subscribes to three streaming services and that binge-watching continues to be a popular activity, with 91 percent of U.S. millennials saying they have watched three or more episodes of a show in a single sitting.

Frustration: But many consumers experience frustration with streaming services’ content, with 47 percent saying they need multiple subscriptions to watch everything they want and 57 percent saying shows that they enjoy have disappeared from streaming services.

“This is happening more frequently as more studios and TV networks are pulling content from the major streaming services to launch their own direct-to-consumer offerings,” the report said.

In response, streaming services have been ramping up production of their own original content.

Another source of frustration is the difficulty many streaming subscribers have in finding the shows or movies they want. The survey found that 43 percent of consumers give up on the search for content if they can’t find it within a few minutes.

“Overall, consumers say they are getting much of what they want but are frustrated by the complexity and effort to get it,” the report said.

Keeping both: Despite the rising popularity of streaming, the survey also showed that many households continue to value both streaming and pay TV, with 43 percent of U.S. consumers having subscriptions to both.

“Streaming versus pay TV is not an either/or proposition,” the report said.

Last year’s Deloitte survey found that streaming video adoption passed the halfway mark in 2017 with 55 percent of U.S. households subscribing to paid services.