OTT Subscribers Return to Living Room, Says Parks Associates

DALLAS—There’s just something special about watching television on a big screen in the living room—at least that’s what a majority of U.S. broadband households subscribing to OTT services say.

New data from research firm Parks Associates reveals 52 percent of these broadband households watch their OTT TV programs, movies, live event coverage and other content on a TV connected to the internet.

"While the total number of hours consuming videos has declined, consumers are watching more internet video on the largest screen available," says Parks Associates Research Analyst Billy Nayden. "The number of hours consumers report watching video on a TV increased for the first time since 2014, with connected devices enabling internet video services on TV and shifting consumers away from PC and mobile viewing.”

What is now developing among OTT competitors is a “battle for the living room,” which is spurring device makers and content producers to find “the correct product mix to maximize both profit and utility,” he says.

OTT business models based on subscriptions currently dominate the field, according to Parks Associates’ new “360 View: Digital Media and Connected Consumers” report. However, with each new service that comes on the scene, the potential for a subscription overload to develop grows.

"As consumers' taste for OTT experimentation wanes, they will start to resist the push to add another monthly subscription to their households," says Nayden. "Many providers are starting to lead with freemium and ad-based models, in anticipation of this pushback."

The report also offers a bright spot for local TV stations. It finds that local broadcast channels and programs are the most enjoyed type of programming.

“Generally, people really enjoy broadcast television,” says Brett Sappington, senior director of research at market analysis firm Parks Associates. “In surveys, we ask about different genres, different categories of programming, and live broadcast television is by far the top service.”

“We often asks survey participants: ‘Which types of content would you have the most difficult time losing in your channel package?’ Local broadcast is clearly the top one consumers want to retain,” he says.

Parks Associates also is detecting that as consumers evaluate their TV options, there’s an uptick in those supplementing their OTT services with over-the-air TV antennas, says Sappington.

Other Parks Associates findings:

  • 55 percent of U.S. broadband households choose watching TV or movies at home as their top two favorite leisure activities;
  • 19 percent of consumers subscribe to either Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and another OTT service vs. 13 percent in 2017; and
  • Consumers watched video about four fewer hours every week in 2018 than in 2016 –25.7 hours vs. 29.5 hours per week.
Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.