U.S. Report: Streaming Eclipses Cable & Satellite TV Viewing


According to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TransUnion, more consumers in the U.S. are streaming now than watching cable and satellite TV.

The survey of over 1,800 TV viewers found that between mid-November and mid-December 2021, 70 percent of Americans who watched TV during that time streamed, including 82 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds.

According to the study, streaming and cable/satellite viewers prefer streaming for entertainment, relaxation and content discovery, while linear TV is more likely to be used to watch news or when the television is on in the background.

It also found that ads viewed on streaming platforms engage consumers more than ads viewed on cable and satellite, especially among the 18-to-54 demo. Nearly twice as many streaming and cable/satellite viewers ages 18 to 54 claim to pay more attention to commercials on streaming (43 percent) versus cable/satellite (23 percent). Also, 59 percent say streaming TV commercials are more relevant to them than commercials on cable/satellite TV.

The results show that 45 percent of TV viewers have three or more streaming-capable TVs at home, nearly two in five (38 percent) have more than one brand of smart TV in their home, and over half of streaming viewers (55 percent) watched more than five streaming channels in the past month.

“It’s clear that streaming television generates more interest among viewers across content and ads, making free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels critical to advertisers,” said Matt Spiegel, executive VP of the media and entertainment vertical at TransUnion. “Streaming viewing time will soon eclipse traditional TV, and with tens of millions of streaming-only households already, advertisers need the right tools to identify and reach audiences through streaming channels.”

“For advertisers, streaming still has its challenges,” added David Wiesenfeld, lead strategist for the media and entertainment vertical at TransUnion. “Consumers stream across multiple devices and applications, many of which own a piece of the streaming ad inventory pool. The different pieces use varying technologies and have unique ways of identifying consumers. That can make it difficult for advertisers to execute audience-targeted campaigns across the streaming ecosystem with the precision and scale they desire.”

Wiesenfeld concluded: “Consumers are telling us how they want to watch TV, and that is increasingly on streaming services. It’s now up to our industry to deliver the seamless, engaging TV ad experiences streaming enables. It starts with being able to recognize consumers across platforms and devices. That will require advertisers, media companies and ad tech platforms to evolve toward an identity infrastructure for TV that serves the needs of all constituents.”