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New Study Finds Consumers Have Been More Experimental With Streaming Services During COVID-19 Lockdowns

Stephanie Sengwe

A new study by research firm Parks Associates found that viewers have been weighing all streaming options as they have had to stay at home due to the COVID-19 outbreaks. Deadline noted that the research firm found that the amount of customers who have canceled their subscriptions to streaming services during the first quarter of 2020 was 41 percent, a spike from 35 percent in the same period of 2019.

“We are seeing a record number of consumers experiment with new OTT services as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the shifts in strategy in the industry,” said Steve Nason, research director at Parks Associates. “OTT services are offering extended free trials to build up engagement, and 8 percent of U.S. broadband households report they have subscribed to at least one new OTT service since the COVID-19 crisis began.”

With Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock launching within the last six months, customers have had more than enough content to choose from. According to the study, 49 percent of new subscribers subscribed to Disney+, while 27 percent subscribed to Apple TV+.

With the coronavirus halting all productions, streamers have had to improvise their content lineups. For example, Disney+ moved the premiere date for the upcoming “Hamilton” film to July 3. The movie was supposed to debut on the platform in 2021 after a theater stint. HBO Max also had to launch without its highly anticipated “Friends” reunion special in May.

“The industry is working on new hybrid content strategies as a result of production halts,” Nason said. “Free trials will bring in new subscribers at the launch, and roughly seven in 10 have subscribed to at least one OTT service they have trialed. OTT services need to be creative in building an engaging service, but during this time of heavy video consumption, OTT services have the opportunity like never before to win over new video consumers and retain them as long-term subscribers.”

Parks Associates’ results are congruent with those recently found in TiVo’s Q1 2020 Video Trends Report. The study found that 74.6 percent of people reported using at least one subscription streaming on-demand service, up from 69.5 percent in 2019.

On the other hand, the study also found that live streaming services such as Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV aren’t making similar strides. According to the study, both are on the decline, dropping by 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively year-over-year.

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