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US video service stacking now higher than ever

Industry Insights: The number of video services used per household in the US reaches its highest number ever, while viewers struggle to differentiate between many services and the environmental impact of video is examined in detail.

service stacking

Average consumer now uses 11+ video services

[Advanced Television]

New research has found that the average number of video services used by consumers in the US has reached and breached double-digits for the first time. It is now up to an average of 11.6 video services per household, a considerable leap from the 8.9 achieved a year ago.

On the whole this is being driven by younger demographic cohorts, but there is diversity even within them. Millennial survey respondents consumed significantly more than any other age group, with an average of 16.3 video sources compared to Generation Z with 12.7 sources and Generation X with only 12.2 sources.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that this growth occurs despite a weakening in overall SVOD usage in the US. 26.6% of survey respondents said they dropped a SVOD service over the last 6 months, with video services growth rising due to the increasing usage of both AVOD and FAST.

Indeed, AVOD and FAST usage is up almost 70% year over year and 64% of consumers now utilise at least one of these types of services, an increase of four percentage from last year which is driven largely by millennial audiences.

And lastly, according to this survey’s data, there still remains a preference for binge watching amongst consumers, with 53% preferring a whole season to drop at once compared to just under 25% who remain attached to the weekly drop. Interestingly — and inexplicably as well from what we know — there is a strong gender difference here, with the majority of women preferring the binge option and the majority of men (roughly 60% in each case) favouring the weekly schedule.

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Video services struggle for differentiation

[Rapid TV News]

There might be more content choice on offer, and more choices being made about what to watch than ever before, but the TV landscape remains a confusing one for viewers according to Hub Entertainment Research. 

The research company has just released a study that found that even though all the major video platforms have brand awareness of above 90% among viewers, brand awareness and brand familiarity are two very different things. Viewers often have a hard time differentiating the brands of streaming services and turn to known content or creative brands to help make viewing decisions. In fact, only about 60% said they felt confident that they could explain to someone else what each platform does best, or how its different from the others.

It’s a conundrum for the companies, especially as some of them are the most recognised brands on the planet. 96% of people are aware of Disney+ and 93% of people are aware of Apple TV, but only 67% and an amazing 46% respectively feel they can communicate confidently what either one is about in the SVOD arena when measured up against all the other services.

For companies that are in full control of their brand awareness in so many other areas of their business, it’s a genuinely surprising finding. And it is allied to the fact that more and more viewers are choosing platforms based on specific shows, which seem be doing the heavy lifting of subscriber conversion much by themselves. 

41% of viewers said they had signed up for a platform just to watch one specific show, up from 35% two years ago, and notably rising to 57% in the 16 to 34 categories.

“Viewers have not lacked in choice of services and content over the past few years. But this can be a two-edged sword for content providers, as the immense volume just makes it hard for viewers to remember what is different about each service,” said David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and study co-author. But at the end of the day, content is king, and unique content will drive viewers even if the service itself isnt unique to consumers.”


The importance of making sustainability key

[NAB Amplify]

Like most people you probably suspect that the chief culprit when it comes to global carbon emissions is the airline industry. However, like most people you would be wrong. A new white paper, Sustainability in Video Entertainment written by Futuresource Consulting, suggests that global video streaming is actually worse for the planet.

As NAB Amplify relates, more than a billion hours of content is consumed on a single, unnamed streaming platform every single day, and as a consequence the video streaming industrys annual carbon footprint now exceeds that of the airline industry. It suggests that 244TWh of energy is used to run data centres and CDNs for streaming. Furthermore, 3% of global electricity output is currently used to power data centres and this is forecast to rise to 8% by 2030.

The paper contends that more energy efficient streaming protocols can result in 50% energy saving per hour of content, which is obviously a worthwhile endeavour given those figures, and at VO we’ve been contributing to action in this field via our work with the NESTED project. There are also plenty of other initiatives happening too, both in this industry and without, such as the innovative use of data centres to heat swimming pools being developed in the UK.

However, it is a constant fight as data demands are going up, driven in turn by demand for more content, more video, and the advent of larger screens running at higher resolutions.

With more investment in renewable energy to power data centers, the environmental impact of video streaming isnt growing as fast as it was previously,” comments Simon Forrest, principal technology analyst at Futuresource Consulting. However, more must be done; it is increasingly likely that the efficiency gains of current technologies may be unable to keep pace with growing data demand. To reduce the risk of rising energy use and emissions, investments in efficient next-generation computing and communications technologies are needed, alongside continued efforts to decarbonize the electricity supply.”

Andy Stout

Andy Stout is a broadcast and technology journalist, who, over longer than he cares to think about, has written for most of the major publications in the industry. He is fascinated by technology and its evolving impact on society, and enjoys bringing an eclectic viewpoint to the Viaccess-Orca blog. He was awarded a First Class BSc from the Open University and lives with his family in Northern Ireland.