ADDISON, Texas—Three-quarters of U.S. broadband households now subscribe to an over-the-top (OTT) service—up nearly 6 million households since the first quarter of 2019, according to new data from international research firm Parks Associates.
The survey, conducted March 8-April 3 during the COVID-19 lockdown, polled 10,000 heads of broadband households. It found 76% now subscribe to an OTT service, with adoption of pay-TV services like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV increasing to 12% of broadband households, the data reveals.
“We are closely tracking shifts in technology use at home, as shelter-in-place orders have continued as a result of COVID-19,” said Steve Nason, research director at Parks Associates.
“Consumers are experimenting with watching video on different services and different devices. We anticipate a number of changes to occur, including higher consumption combined with reduced spending per month on services, which could boost ad-based services, as well as shifts in what content consumers are watching,” he said.
OTT aggregator Reelgood tracks what its 4.8 million users watch. Between March 16 and April 26, viewers shifted viewing preferences, the company’s data showed.
Comedy, faith, spirituality and children’s programming increased their share of viewers, while horror, war and crime fell, according to Reelgood.
Popular shows during the period included “Ozark,” “Money Heist” and “Tiger King” from Netflix. The most popular movie was “Parasite.” The TV show “Doctor Foster” and movie “The Silver Linings Playbook” saw the biggest jumps in popularity when compared to the pre-COVID-19 period of Feb. 17-March 15.
“One of the biggest shifts—and opportunities—that we’re noticing is the massive spike in children’s content available to stream,” said Reelgood Head of Marketing Catharine Burhenne. “The entertainment businesses who thrive during the COVID and post-COVID eras will be the ones who can cater their offerings to accommodate the huge appetite for streaming kids’ content. Tubi’s launch of their app Tubi Kids is an example of businesses capitalizing on this opportunity.”
The Parks Associates findings are part of its quarterly OTT Video Market Tracker and quarterly consumer surveys. The company plans to conduct several surveys this year to quantify the impact of the outbreak on connected in-home entertainment, it said.
It currently is fielding the “COVID-19 Impact on Communications and Entertainment” study through May to measure how the outbreak is impacting spending on entertainment and communications services.
Phil Kurz is contributing editor to TV Technology
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