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Study: US Streaming Momentum Stalls at 85% Penetration, FAST Services Show Strong Growth

Lauren Forristal

Kantar reports that U.S. households with streaming video subscriptions dropped to 85% in the third quarter of 2021. That’s a slippage of 1% from Q2, and down 2% year-over-year. As of September, 109 million households are still streaming.

Overall, a total of 4.5 million viewers canceled a streaming subscription this quarter. While this may seem like a loss, there is a hope that the majority of who remain are the most engaged users and less likely to increase churn rates.

Of those who cut a service in Q3, a whopping 85% (3.8 million people) now have no streaming service at all. The number of non-cable, non-satellite, streaming-only consumers is down 2.2% compared to last quarter. Kantar suggests the average streaming subscriber now has 4.2 streaming subscriptions, up from 3.8 in Q2 2021.

And while individual services compete, the AVOD, FAST, and SVOD industries also come to a head. Compared to last quarter, SVOD subscribers declined 1.5%. FAST services are showing the biggest growth, with 14% of viewers using those options (+3% for the quarter). AVOD services are up 0.8% on the quarter and now serve 21% of U.S. homes.

The continued strength of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is particularly notable. A report from TDG Research shows that 6 out of 10 households with connected TVs use FASTs. Those services feature higher NPS (net promoter scores), suggesting viewers are more satisfied and loyal.

Related: The Best Free Streaming Services

We also have to look at Live Pay TV (better known as Cable TV) and how many households only watch linear television. Perhaps counterintuitively, Live Pay Only households improved slightly, going from 9% in Q2 2021 to 10% now. However, there are also Americans who use MVPD+ (multichannel video programming distributor). Those that use both linear and digital are up 51% (a 1% increase from Q2).

The reason behind these slipping penetration rates may be consumers dipping in and out of their vMVPD subscriptions because they only want to pay for titles they really want to see.

Kantar predicts that there will be more retention of subscribers in Q4 2021 but also more competition for screen time. It all comes down to what streaming service has the most trending content.

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