Booming FAST market gains suggest more life in linear
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Joseph O'Halloran
| 16 July 2021
Despite the widely recognised proliferation of subscription streaming services, ad-supported streaming options continue to gain momentum, and, says Horowitz Research, may mean that reports of the death of linear programming are somewhat exaggerated.
HOrowitz State of Viewing Streaming 16July2021
The State of Viewing and Streaming 2021 report noted that ad-supported streaming services do not yet command the share of viewing enjoyed by subscription-based streaming services, a market dominated by original aggregators like Netflix but which also includes a wide range of direct-to-consumer alternatives like Disney+, Peacock, and Discovery+. Yet said Horowitz, the growth of these free ad-supported TV (FAST) services signals an important turning point for media companies struggling to adjust their business models to the streaming environment.

The report found consumers were using a wide range of ad-supported services with linear content. Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel app, and IMDb TV are among the services consumers report using most often. Almost half (46%) of TV content viewers in the US reported using an ad-supported streaming service (AVOD) at least monthly, and a full 28% use a FAST service with ad-supported linear channels in addition to their on-demand offerings.

Horowitz stated clearly that streaming was poised to eclipse traditional platforms in terms of share of viewing of long-form TV content, the study shows. Among consumers overall, the pie is split rather evenly: 35% of self-reported time spent is now spent on linear content delivered via a traditional service (cable, satellite, or over-the-air through an antenna), while 37% is spent on streamed content (the rest is spent on cable or satellite-delivered VOD, content that is DVR’d, or DVDs).

Among younger consumers, the picture was found to be very different: a full 50% of time spent among 18-34 year olds is on streamed content, while only 18% of their time is spent with traditional, linear content.

Horowitz stressed that the need to monetise TV content in the streaming environment as robustly as it had been monetised in the traditional environment is a matter of survival for media companies big and small in this new ecosystem. The study suggested that indeed, consumers are very open to advertising in the streaming space—perhaps even more so than they were in the traditional, linear space.

Around half of streamers went out of their way to avoid advertising when watching TV, bur there was more tolerance when watching content that is available for free or at low cost. Almost three-fifths (58%) of streamers felt that ads were a fair “price” for being able to watch TV content for free . Moreover, almost two-fifth of consumers were starting to notice- and appreciate— the more customised, personalised advertising experience they are getting through streaming.

“Consumers’ love for entertainment content—and their desire to get as much of that content as they can for as little as they can— hasn’t changed. The fundamentals of the industry haven’t changed,” remarked Adriana Waterston, SVP of Insights and Strategy for Horowitz commenting on The State of Viewing and Streaming 2021 report.

“What has changed are the expectations consumers have about how, where, and when they can consume the content they love, and the technology that exists to deliver those experiences. When delivered in the screen-agnostic, watch-anywhere, and highly personalised viewing experience of the streaming environment, we are seeing some consumers not just tolerating, but welcoming advertising, particularly when it is customised to their interests.”