The OTT Upside: US OTT Subs to Hit 277 in 2026

(Image credit: Pixabay)

 ADDISON, Texas—Despite widespread adoption of OTT services, Parks Associates has released new research showing there is still room to grow. It is forecasting that OTT subs will grow another 20% from nearly 230 million in 2021 to more than 277 million in 2026. 

The new whitepaper, “The Evolving Digital Media Landscape,” developed in partnership with Everise, also reports that 80% of millennials and Gen Zers say they view video on more than one platform at least monthly and found that churn rates for SVOD services were higher among younger audiences. 

“People move out of their parents’ home, go to college or get a job, establish a career, marry and have children, eventually the children move out, and then they retire,” said Kristen Hanich, senior analyst, Parks Associates. “Throughout each stage, a consumer’s wants, needs, and priorities change as well.”

The Parks Associates research found that in Q1 2021, the average OTT subscription in US broadband households is roughly two and a half years and has an extremely strong correlation with age – subscription lengths for younger consumers are much shorter than for older consumers. Older consumers subscribe to fewer services but keep them for a longer period. By contrast, younger consumers may subscribe to a larger number of services but are more likely to churn through them, the report noted. 

“The delivery and digestion of streamed content market is heavily influenced by the ability to attract and retain viewers,” said Dave Palmer, president, Everise. “To ensure a positive brand experience, media companies must consider a myriad of preferences and behaviors – age, viewing habits, interests, available time, platform preference, etc. The emergence of multiplatform viewing further drives the need for these brands to protect both themselves and their customers with a multichannel content moderation and omnichannel support strategy.”

Competitiveness between OTT video and other forms of entertainment will continue to increase as consumers age, with a larger share of consumers’ time going towards socialization and in-person recreation, vacation, and events. “Brands can leverage new engagement data to help design new services and improve their customer support and retention strategies, offering value to consumers both at-home on different platforms and on-the-go, "said Hanich.

Palmer also stressed that, “information providers can design support services that appeal to consumers at different life stages, who prefer different channels, and adapt as their needs evolve.”

This would also involve the platforms they use to deliver content, with the PC and mobile becoming more important for younger viewers. 

The research found that viewing time is tilting away from TV. In Q2 2015, consumers spent 67% of their viewing time on a TV, followed by PC (22%) and mobile (11%). But by Q1 2021 they were spending a quarter on mobile, and 55% on TV.

Over half of millennials' and two thirds of Gen Z’s viewing time was spent on PCs or mobile devices. Gen Z spent almost as much time viewing video on a PC as TV.

The report also noted changes in viewing habits as consumers age and their lifestyles change. While mean subscriptions per household rose from 2.7 in Q1 2021 to 4.2 in Q1 2021, younger consumers subscribed to more services and were more likely to churn through them. 

To download The Evolving Digital Media Landscape, visit here.  

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.