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The ‘Silver Streamer’: Aging Population May Change The Face Of Streaming

Recent studies reveal that the ‘Over-65’ set is increasingly picking up streaming.

Steve Anderson

Streaming video is often thought of as the province of the young. Millennials and Gen Z often flock to streaming platforms, being more familiar with the technology and eager to take advantage of the range of options. A new report from Consultancy.uk, however, suggests that the older folks are getting into the market too, a move which may destabilize the streaming field as we know it.

Dubbed the “Silver Streamer,” the report notes that those between the ages of 65 and 75 are increasingly picking up the streaming market for their own. The report notes that streaming use among that age group has increased by over 20% in the last year. The biggest reason? The report suggests that seniors have turned to streaming out of sheer boredom, and, at least in the UK, out of desperation to avoid certain kinds of content that flooded television screens during 2020 — including an overabundance of pandemic coverage, government announcements, and frequent news saturation following the death of Prince Phillip.

Growth rates for senior streamers are rapidly on the rise. The report noted that streaming device sales, in general, were on the rise, as around 19.2 million devices had been purchased in the UK so far in 2021 — up 8% from the same time a year previously. Moreover, laptop access for the over-65 set jumped from 68% the preceding year to 75% this year.

Some of this is attributable to a rising tide lifting all boats. An Ofcom study released in August found that not only did the use of streaming video double in 2020 over the year prior, but the subscriptions for Netflix alone were sufficient to exceed those of every other pay-TV provider in the UK. A streaming service of some type, Ofcom further notes, can be found in three out of every five homes in the UK.

This can also be traced to an increased presence of senior-friendly streaming fare. In the United States, last month, the recently-launched streaming service Saltbox TV gained attention for its focus on senior audiences.

Acorn TV

Acorn TV is an excellent choice for viewing television programming (and the occasional film) produced outside the United States, primarily content from the United Kingdom. The service also creates original content and has a library of hundreds of TV shows. Of particular note are their award-winning mysteries and dramas. Easy on the wallet, a monthly subscription allows for simultaneous streams from up to four devices, all commercial-free. There are no options for offline download, however, and the service only allows for one profile. While Acorn TV is largely safe for all ages, there is no content geared specifically for children. As such, the service does not provide any parental controls.

While Saltbox TV may be one of the first services to target older audiences, it is not the only one to focus on the senior set. Acorn TV, for example, features multiple British dramas geared toward seniors, along with other shows like Detectorists, a comedy following metal-detecting enthusiasts. There are also services like Britbox that do well among older audiences, as well as smaller-scale content on platforms like Roku.

As the numbers of seniors continue to rise and find themselves turning to streaming video services over traditional broadcast television or cable, an increase in senior-friendly fare is even more likely to hit streaming services. And why not? They’re watching too; they should have something worth watching. Some of it can be pretty good even if you aren’t specifically a senior.

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