Report: 52% of U.S. Households Do Not Have Cable; Nearly 70% of Streaming Users Plan to Cycle
It would be hard to blame a casual observer for thinking that the television landscape is currently falling into chaos. Streaming video is attempting what was once thought unthinkable: the replacement of linear television as the main source of American entertainment.
A new report from data and measurement company Samba TV demonstrates the progress that streaming made in 2022. The report is voluminous, but it indicates that streaming is in something of a two-steps-forward, one-step-back scenario in its relationship with linear TV.
First, the good news for streaming: Samba’s report indicates that a majority of households did not watch linear TV on a daily basis in the second half of 2022. The third quarter of last year saw a seven-quarter low in linear TV audience numbers, though traditional TV did see a rebound in the fourth quarter thanks to holiday viewing and live sports like NFL and college football.
The data gets more encouraging for streaming providers, as well. A majority — 52% — of people in the United States no longer have a cable subscription. That number becomes more pronounced among younger generations, with 65% of Gen Zers (born roughly between 1997 and 2012) and 58% of Millennials (born 1981 and 1996) not owning a cable or satellite subscription. Only Baby Boomers still subscribe to pay TV at a rate above 50%.
However, the report also illustrated the current fragmented nature of the streaming industry. Many streaming services find themselves losing customers after just one series. Apple TV+, Paramount+, and HBO Max all saw more than half of their users watch just one of their top programs on the service, significantly elevating the risk of subscription cycling.
With so much content spread across different platforms, Americans are taking longer than ever to find the right show for them. The dearth of content is leading to increasing levels of users tuning into a service for one show, then canceling before getting billed again and moving on to another platform. A full 69% of U.S. adults report they’ll consider cycling through services in this way over the next year.
That would explain why 54% of U.S. adults are reporting subscribing to two streaming services or less. With entertainment budgets tightening, users are much more willing to hop around services to watch what they want on an a la carte basis. It’s yet another sign that services should consider aggregating their libraries further to offer users as much popular content as possible.
Paramount+ is the latest streamer to adopt such a policy, announcing recently it will merge its platform with SHOWTIME and rebrand itself as “Paramount+ with Showtime” in the coming months. HBO Max will not fully merge with discovery+ as was intended for months, but a majority of discovery+ programming is migrating to Warner Bros. Discovery’s premium streamer.
Samba’s report shows that while streaming is in a stronger position than ever as compared to linear TV, it still has some evolving to do as an industry. Streamers will have to come up with new ways to combat cycling, and keep users engaged for the long term.