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AVOD Study: Commercials Less Bothersome When Relevant, Consistent, or Informative

Lauren Forristal

Ad-supported streaming services are gaining in popularity. It’s a great way to stretch your streaming budget. But how many ads are too many? And what do people really think of commercials barging into their viewing experience?

New data from Hub Entertainment Research suggests consumers dislike heavy ad loads during shows, and it has a strong impact on their perception of the entire viewing experience.

There were six key findings from the report:

  1. Viewers find a heavy ad load unreasonable, and it negatively impacts their viewing satisfaction.
  2. Audiences who were most satisfied with the viewing experience were those who found the ads relevant to them.
  3. TV viewers generally feel positive about ads targeted to them based on personal information.
  4. Consumers are willing to have a range of personal information shared with providers in order to have a more relevant ad experience.
  5. Despite a high ad load on discovery+, increased ad relevance softened the negative impact.
  6. Viewers are more willing to pay attention to relevant ads, even if there are a lot of them.

When asked about a recent experience watching a show on an ad-supported platform, 25% of viewers said that five or fewer ads was considered an unreasonable number, 36% said 6-10 ads, and 46% found 11+ ads too many. When rating the overall experience, positive ratings went from 44% among those estimating they’d seen five or fewer ads to 41% among those estimating 6-10 ads to just 33% among those estimating 11+ ads.

According to a Digital Trends study from Deloitte, consumers are willing to watch more ads if that means the streaming service is free. 39% said they would watch 12 minutes of ads per hour, and 40% of survey participants would pay $12/month for an ad-free subscription.

Related: The Best Free Streaming Services

When it comes to commercials, relevance is key. Nearly 3 in 5 viewers who saw ads that matched their interests rated their viewing experience as positive. More than half of viewers said they had a positive experience when they saw ads for items they’ve previously searched for.

Another interesting result about targeted ads, only 16% have a negative reaction to the idea of ads targeted based on their personal information. Compared to Hub’s study in June, this number is down 6 points. Also, 28% have a positive reaction towards targeted ads. Many consumers who would share personal information for a more relevant ad experience agreed they would be willing to share data on the types of shows they watch (61%).

50% of survey participants said discovery+ had the most ads than any service they subscribed to. Other services that are considered to have more ads than others were HBO Max (42%), Peacock (35%), Hulu (34%), and Paramount+ (33%).

However, in spite of that, discovery+ ranked first for having the most “reasonable” ad load (60%), and 39% of subscribers were the most likely to say they paid attention to all or most of the ads. HBO Max was a close second with 38% of its subscribers who paid attention to ads.

The reasons for all this? Relevant, informative, and consistent ads are in all likelihood to be the explanation for this data. One in four people surveyed said they got relevant ads, some believed the ads were consistent with the type of show they were watching (22%), and 17% thought the ads were specifically relevant for them.

To back this up, a report from Morning Consult back in October 2021 shows that 57% of viewers considered targeted advertising to be “informative.”

The role of ad-supported platforms continues to evolve. Streaming platforms like HBO Max now offer ad-supported tiers, the use of FAST services continues to grow, like the Roku Channel which has begun offering its own original content. Are targeted ads the cure for “ad load blues”?

Peter Fondulas, Hub principal and co-author of the study, said, “Ad-supported TV providers have been focused on finding ways to balance the needs of their two main constituents: advertisers (ensuring strong reach and frequency) and viewers (not bombarding them with insufferable ad loads). So far, the primary focus has been on finding the ad load sweet spot that both groups find reasonable. But this research—in particular, the findings for discovery+ — suggests that the key to overcoming ad load concerns is delivering spots that viewers clearly recognize as in line with their interests. And the vast majority of viewers are not opposed to sharing the kind of data that will allow that to happen.”

The data was collected in December 2021 among 3,038 US consumers aged 14-74 who watch at least one hour of television per week.


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