Streaming Is Now More Popular Than Linear on Samsung Smart TVs

The pandemic is accelerating the move to streaming

two tv screens with abstract shapes in yellow and orange on the left and pink and blue on the right
There are over 50 million Samsung smart TVs in the U.S. Samsung

Streaming accounts for the majority of consumption across Samsung’s U.S. footprint of over 50 million smart TVs, according to the company at today’s NewFronts panel.

By the end of Q1 2020, streaming took up 58% of time spent on Samsung smart TVs. The rest was spent watching linear programming or content delivered via set-top box or satellite.

Samsung, the largest maker of smart TVs in America, took the virtual stage today during the IAB’s 2020 NewFronts show. Instead of pushing its ad offerings, like native ad units on its home screen or the inventory it controls through streaming service Samsung TV Plus, the company laid out how TV viewership is moving online more quickly.

“I like to say that advertisers come for the data and then stay for the media and inventory. Once they figure out how they can activate and it’s meeting their KPIs, we keep these customers long-term,” Tom Fochetta, vp of Samsung Ads, told Adweek prior to the company’s NewFronts presentation.

The uptick in streaming seems to have been accelerated by the novel coronavirus pandemic. From January to mid-March, linear TV viewing grew 70% and streaming grew 132%. From March 15 to May 10, streaming enjoyed a steady increase in viewership at 127%, but linear’s growth rate fell to 47%.

Justin Evans, global head of analytics and insights at Samsung Ads, told Adweek audiences are bifurcating, prior to the NewFronts panel. Only 26% of Samsung’s viewers account for 86% of total linear viewership.

“What this suggests, from an advertiser perspective, is a major challenge that they have one slice of the population that is highly accessible in a linear format. And they have another much larger chunk of the population that seems to be better accessed through streaming. We think it’s posing a challenge to advertisers who more assertively manage their linear and streaming together as a way to accomplish holistic reach,” said Evans.

Not all streaming is ad-supported, however. By the end of 2019, 56% of time spent streaming was through ad-free services. But 75% of streamers on Samsung TV’s platform do use an ad-supported service.

“Our market approach is to offer our advertisers … exclusive insights, leverage this data, and then we deliver and activate on that data with ad units that are native as well as audience-based through a variety of private deals,” said Fochetta.

Samsung TV Plus is the company’s free, ad-supported streaming service. Fochetta said it’s the second most popular ad-supported service on Samsung’s platform.

Samsung Ads recently partnered with SpotX to make its connected TV inventory available programmatically.

@andrewblustein Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.