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Report: YouTube TV Sees Largest Quarterly Viewer Growth; Americans Want Ad-Supported Netflix to Be Free

David Satin

Research firm Attest has released its quarterly report on U.S. media consumption. The report has some good news for the live TV streaming service YouTube TV, while its results for Netflix are decidedly more mixed.

YouTube TV saw the biggest gain of any streaming service in new viewers during the third quarter. Twenty-three percent of respondents now use YouTube TV, up 6% from Q2 in 2022. That number is sure to rise, as well, given YouTube's recent announcement that customers can now buy channels à la carte without a base plan which costs $64.99 per month.

Netflix is still the most popular service overall, with over 70% of respondents saying that they watched content on the platform at least once per week. However, Netflix saw no growth in the number of people who said they use the service that often.

HBO Max saw nearly a 5% increase in the number of people who said they used it every week, likely thanks to its highly popular “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon.” Prime Video grew by 4.4%, a number probably similarl due to its exclusive broadcasts of “Thursday Night Football” and its fantasy tentpole show “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

The report contained more concerning tidbits for Netflix, as well. According to Advanced Television, Attest reports that a plurality of Netflix customers (19.9%) believe that the service’s ad-supported tier, which launches Nov. 3, should be free. The next largest segment of respondents (17.3%) said that they would rather keep their current plan than switch to the ad-supported tier. In terms of an actual price, 15.5% thought that they would be willing to pay $5-$6 per month. Earlier this month, the company announced that the lower-priced plan would run $6.99 monthly.

Attest’s numbers also show that Netflix’s initial net gain of new subscribers may be negligible. That lines up with a survey done earlier this year that showed up to 60% of Netflix’s current users would make the switch to the ad-supported tier within five years. Netflix’s revenues will still grow thanks to the advertiser dollars that will soon be pouring in, with projections that it could net $600 million in the first year of ad-supported streaming. But the company may end up cannibalizing a large portion of its subscriber base in the process.

There was one area in which respondents thought Netflix was doing a good job. Netflix is experimenting with new models for releasing episodes and over 40% of respondents said that they supported a move toward weekly releases and away from binge releases.

All in all, the Attest report had good news for TV providers everywhere in Q3. Viewing time for subscription TV is modestly trending up, with Americans most likely to say they watch between one and two hours per day (30.9%). Viewing time is also rising for free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels and platforms, although a lesser 22.5% of people watch it for one or two hours daily (and 34.4% don’t watch it at all). Live TV also got a +4.4 percentage point increase in regular viewers: 77.7% of Americans say they watch at least some live TV each day.

Now the onus lands on providers to ensure they’re snagging the biggest percentage of viewers possible.

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