The Number of People Who Use Netflix Is Now the Same as Paying TV Consumers

Pay television subscriptions have been decreasing since 2015

But streaming services have a big ad problem. Getty Images, Netflix
Headshot of Sami Main

According to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the streaming audience is growing—but in unexpected directions.

Fewer people are paying for linear TV than in previous years, but the number of Netflix users is rising. In 2016, about 76 percent of people paid for linear TV in the United States; this year, that number dropped to 73 percent, which is the same percentage of people who use Netflix. According to the chart below, pay TV subscriptions have been decreasing since 2015 to make room for cord cutters and cord trimmers.

While 75 percent of consumers with Pay TV say they can’t handle using over four services, respondents report that they pay more for video today than they did last year. Of all the services these respondents use, 46 percent are ones they subscribed to or tried out within the last six months, indicating that this is still a highly exploratory space.

About 55 percent of cord trimmers regularly subscribe to trial versions of these services, but 33 percent don’t typically continue their subscription once that trial is over. The top reason for not keeping a subscription: The consumer didn’t use it often enough to justify the price. According to PwC, people are more likely to select a service based on its breadth of programs than the content exclusive to that platform.

How can streaming services appeal to consumers and convince them to stick around for longer?

All of these options are adding up to confused consumers faced with too many choices. PwC recommends for streaming services and pay TV providers to “relinquish the need to own everything and figure out how to partner with one another.” In other words, team up and stop stressing everyone out with too many options.

Marketers for streaming services should view cord cutters and cord-nevers as a new audience opportunity; they’ve come to expect low or no commitments to join these kinds of services and are getting used to balancing more than three at a time. Keeping your service easy to use with an “old-school channel surfing” aesthetic will also soothe overwhelmed consumers.

Other pain points include highly repetitive ads, which only 40 percent of people see as more relevant than ones served to them on pay TV. Respondents said frequent and long ad breaks take away from their enjoyment, and many prefer more longer upfront ads with fewer interruptions throughout the program.

For more details on the entire study—and how this new world affects sports fans in particular—check out PwC’s full report here.


@samimain sami.main@adweek.com Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.
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