To Each Their Own: How Consumers Feel About Ad-Supported Streaming Services
by Frankie Karrer5 min read
- 33% of all sign-ups to streaming services are serial churners — and that number has risen over the past few years.
- 86% of consumers say they’re willing to watch ads on Connected TV
- Netflix has the highest overall satisfaction rates of any ad-supported streaming service, but falls short in satisfaction over price.
- Disney+ had a banner year, achieving high overall satisfaction rates and happiness with price, along with the top spot in satisfaction with original content.
- Max dropped in rankings for a number of survey questions, suggesting that their new platform and content leaves something to be desired.
- Discovery+ was another standout at the time of the survey, but with the new Max platform now including all of the same content, that’s likely to change.
Streaming was once the land of opportunity for content providers, with cord-cutters aplenty to choose from. But now, reality is setting in: the subscriber pool isn’t as unlimited as it once seemed. Instead, streaming services are forced to fight over the same customers — and those streaming viewers aren’t going to settle for the bare minimum in TV and movie content anymore.
In fact, a survey from Antenna found that of all new sign-ups to streaming services, 33% are serial churners (those who have canceled a premium service three or more times in the previous two years). That number has risen over the past few years, as seen in the chart below. It’s no wonder, with streaming subscriptions costing more than ever.
One way services are attempting to curb the amount of subscribers who jump ship after a few months: offering the option of a cheaper ad-supported tier instead. 2023 saw streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Max launch ad-supported tiers, and this year we can likely expect even more to join their ranks.
The rise of ad-supported Connected TV content is a boon for advertisers and consumers alike. After all, one survey from AppsFlyer found that 30% of consumers say that CTV ads don’t bother them, 40% said it depends on the cost of the service, and 15% said it depends on the number of ads. That’s 86% of respondents who are willing to watch ads on Connected TV.
Overall Satisfaction with Major Streaming Services
To investigate the satisfaction rates of the many ad-supported streamers, we turned to a 2023 survey conducted by CableTV.com, which asked consumers a number of questions about their experiences with streaming services.
The survey found that, despite its controversies over the last year, Netflix still ranked at the top of the list for overall consumer satisfaction. This may be in part because of its position as one of the longest standing streaming services — most consumers know what to expect when they log in to watch content on Netflix. Or it could be because Netflix finally launched an ad-supported tier at the end of 2022, giving consumers a chance to offset some of the service’s soaring prices.
Disney+ and Hulu also boast high overall satisfaction ratings. And the news that they are combining into a single service may just help push them over the edge to take up one of the top spots for next year’s ranking.
Max, on the other hand, took a dive this year. CableTV.com reports that the service took the second place spot in 2022, but in dropping some of their more popular original content during the Discovery+/HBO Max merger — which resulted in the new Max platform — the company made some consumers wary. While Discovery+ ranks high in overall satisfaction (and, spoiler alert, enjoyed high rankings throughout the rest of the survey, too), we suspect that the standalone service will begin to lose viewers to the combined option available through the Max platform in the coming year.
Speaking of original content, respondents were also asked how satisfied they were with each service’s original content. As seen in the chart above, Disney+ took the top spot with an 83% satisfaction rate. Unsurprising, considering that the service released 35 new shows in 2022 alone.
Netflix and Max, two other platforms known for their original content, also ranked in the top five here. CableTV.com suggests that their positions may have been higher if they hadn’t canceled so many popular shows after only one or two seasons.
What Role Does Price Play?
Considering many folks are watching ads on streaming to avoid paying exorbitant subscription fees, another important question is how quality plays into viewers’ perception of each services’ price.
When asked how they would rate the quality of each streaming service based on the rate they were paying, Disney+ once again won over most viewers (79%), who agreed it was extremely or very reliable. ESPN+, on the other hand, ranked towards the bottom of the list. This may be in part because of the Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ bundle available to viewers — while users who just want Disney+ and Hulu are still better off with the bundle, they are now stuck with another service that they maybe don’t ever use but are still technically paying for. And even if you are a sports fan, ESPN+ doesn’t offer coverage of the NBA and has limited coverage of the NFL.
Netflix also ranks fairly low on the list at 73%, considering its top position in the poll of overall satisfaction. We can’t say we’re surprised — the streaming platform has become notorious for its price hikes.
Consumers Are the New King
Streaming is entering a new era, one where almost every service offers an ad-supported tier to consumers unwilling to keep paying for those rising streaming costs. As a result, platforms are going to have to find new ways to keep the satisfaction rates of their users high. With competition getting fiercer than ever, it’s time for streamers to double down on the quality of both their content and platforms. If they don’t, viewers will almost certainly start jumping ship.
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