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NPR, Ipsos Report: Over 90% Say Cost Is Important Factor in Keeping a Streaming Service

David Satin

As the slow evolution of the streaming industry continues, nearly every service is looking for ways to get ahead of the competition; boosting subscriber numbers and lowering churn are at the forefront of every executive’s mind. A new survey done by NPR and data supplier Ipsos is shedding some light on which factors are the most important for streamers looking to stay on top.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that cost and content were key factors in customers’ streaming decisions. Over 90% of respondents to the survey said that cost was a “somewhat” or “very important” factor in deciding whether or not to sign up for a service. Eighty-seven percent also said that specific shows or movies being available on a service were “somewhat” or “very important” as well.

The survey also showed the extent of customer loyalty when it came to price increases. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that they would keep their favorite service if the price increased by $5 per month, but that number plummets to just 33% if the hypothetical increase stretched to $10.

The survey also shared some interesting numbers regarding the availability of ad-supported streaming options. The data shows that 70% of people claim that the ability to choose between having ads or going commercial-free is an important factor in signing up for a service. However, only 47% said that they would actually choose to pay less and watch their desired content with ads, while 51% said they would pay more to watch ad-free.

NPR asked one of its respondents why they thought the ability to choose was important, even if they wouldn’t necessarily opt for an ad-supported plan.

“It definitely gives more opportunity for people to watch more [streaming services],” said poll participant Ted Nguyen. “Sometimes ads are kind of nice, to break up the monotony of [programming].”

Having cheaper ad-supported plans available also allows customers to choose how to curate their streaming budget. Those budgets can be stretched further when subscribers combine ad-supported plans on top of services with ad-free plans, mixing and matching to maximize their budget.

That’s good news in general for Netflix and Disney+,both of which are due to launch ad-supported tiers before the end of the year. Simply having the option available appears to bring more subscribers in, and they may well choose the most expensive tier available once they make the decision to subscribe.

The news for Netflix was more mixed when the survey came to numbers on password sharing. NPR’s survey found that 50% of users said charging more for password sharing would be an important factor in their decision to drop a service. Netflix announced it would roll out a plan to charge password sharers outside the subscriber’s home. That plan is set to go into effect in early 2023.

Finally, the survey offered a little more insight into the effects of inflation on streaming budgets. The numbers found that respondents on average subscribe to 3.55 services, and pay $42.38 per month for those services. Half of respondents said that they either added or dropped a service last year, and 38% said that their streaming costs had increased in the past year.

The survey still points to the inescapable conclusion that streaming is the future of TV. Fewer than 20% of Americans watch TV via an antenna, while 71% use at least one streaming service. Streamers will have to keep innovating on the content and value frons in order to find the best ways of attracting new subscribers, but the days of the rabbit ears are almost over.

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