Streaming Eclipses Cable and Satellite TV Viewing; Consumers Pay More Attention to TV Programs and Ads When Streaming
TransUnion and Harris Poll survey finds more active viewing, more relevant ads and shorter ad breaks may boost consumers’ commercial attention
According to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TransUnion (NYSE: TRU), more consumers are streaming now than watching cable and satellite TV. Between mid-November and mid-December 2021, 70% of Americans who watched TV during that time streamed, including 82% of 18-54 year-olds.
The survey of over 1,800 TV viewers found they watch streaming more actively compared to legacy cable/satellite. Further, they prefer streaming for high-engagement viewing occasions, such as watching their favorite show or when they want to ‘lose themselves’ in a program. The survey also found streaming ads resonate more with consumers – especially the younger audiences advertisers covet – than ads viewed on cable or satellite TV.
“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. 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,” said Matt Spiegel, EVP of Media and Entertainment Vertical, TransUnion.
Streaming More Engaging Than TV Tied to the Cord
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.
Viewer Preferences – Streaming v. Cable/Satellite Television
Reason to Watch
Watch favorite programs
To escape and lose myself in a program
Really want to pay attention to program
When I am looking for something new to watch (discovery)
Watch the news
Commercials on Streaming TV Garner More Consumer Attention
Overall, ads viewed on streaming platforms engage consumers more than ads viewed on cable and satellite, especially among 18-54 year-olds:
- Almost twice as many streaming and cable/satellite viewers ages 18-54 claim to pay more attention to commercials on streaming (43%) versus cable/satellite (23%).
- 59% say streaming TV commercials are more relevant to them than commercials on cable/satellite TV.
- 47% say streaming has more engaging/interactive commercials compared to only 28% who say the same about cable/satellite.
- 69% agree that streaming tends to have shorter ad breaks compared to cable/satellite TV, which likely also contributes to increased ad attention.
Streaming Remains a Fragmented Advertising Market
“For advertisers, streaming still has its challenges. 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,” said David Wiesenfeld, Lead Strategist, Media and Entertainment Vertical, TransUnion.
The survey found 45% of TV viewers have three or more streaming-capable TVs at home, nearly two in five (38%) have more than one brand* of smart TV in their home, and over half of streaming viewers (55%) watched more than five streaming channels* in the past month.
“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,” Wiesenfeld concluded.
For additional findings from the TransUnion - Harris Poll study, please click here.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TransUnion between December 9-13, 2021 among 2,043 adults ages 18+, among whom 1,878 watch TV.
Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, education, and size of household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.
About TransUnion (NYSE:TRU)
TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing an actionable picture of each person so they can be reliably represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.® A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.
About TruAudience by TransUnion
Powered by a three-dimensional view of people, households and devices, TruAudience® solutions provides precise, scalable identity to enable audience targeting and consumer engagement across offline, digital and streaming environments. To learn more, visit www.truaudience.com
 This is among the 8 brands presented to the respondents in the survey.
 This is among the 67 channels presented to the respondents in the survey.