Multiple OTT subscriptions more than double in US HHs in 5 years

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Nearly half (46%) of US households now have multiple OTT subscriptions, a 130% increase since 2014 when just 20% of homes subscribed, a new report says. In 2017, one-third of HHs took two or more services.

Most OTT households subscribe to one of the Big Three subscription services, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. But, according to the report from Parks Associates, more consumers are looking at other small and medium-sized services to fill content gaps the big services don’t cover, an opportunity for those services to build their brand.

The report fount that nearly three-quarters of HHs take at least one SVOD service, up from 51% five years ago, and that 53% subscribe to at least one OTT service and pay-TV.

Competition heats up, content, marketing is key for smaller players

And while Netflix, Amazon and Hulu all count their subscribers by the millions, about 90 of the SVOD services in the US have 50,000 or fewer subscribers; 72 have fewer than 20,000 subs.

RELATED: The number of multi-SVOD homes is rising quickly, up 245% since 2015

The plethora of services in the market, with more on the way, can create an identity crisis, of sorts, for smaller services. They often lack the scale to battle toe-to-toe with providers like Netflix in terms of content spend and marketing, which are critical to growth.

But the 140% increase in SVOD services since 2014 has also made consumers more aware that there are alternatives – or supplements – to the Big Three. The question now, of course, is how will consumers opt to spend their money on multiple OTT services once the next wave of players, including services from Disney, Apple and other content heavyweights hit the market in earnest?

The bottom line

All of the recent growth in SVOD services over the past five years, and all of the news about services coming in the next several months, has created an awareness of OTT among consumers that is unprecedented.

From Gen Edge to the Silent Majority, over-the-top content – and multiple OTT subscriptions – has become mainstream. You’re as likely to hear grandparents talking about the launch of Disney+ and Apple + as you are their grandchildren. Streaming has become part of the vernacular.

While smaller services can’t spend to market themselves to the extent new entries like Apple+ has, the awareness of streaming options in general, which has been driven by the Big Three, has increased dramatically.

Far more consumers, for example, are aware of the availability of streaming services than are aware that their pay-TV provider offers a TV Everywhere option.

That awareness creates an environment where consumers are more actively looking to add to their own, personal streaming bundle than to their pay-TV bloat.

No doubt the major marketing push from big dogs like Disney+ and Apple+ – let alone Netflix, Amazon and Hulu – will educate consumers to the idea that there’s more than the Big 3 to consider. And that, actually, could be a good thing for smaller players. 

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn