There’s a problem brewing for media companies looking to reach viewers over OTT platforms, according to a new study by Boston-based research firm Altman Vilandrie & Company.
The study found that too many apps and options on connected devices are confusing users, and limiting the market penetration of nearly all networks and publishers looking to gain traction for their programming online.
“Greater choice does not always lead to better experience,” said Jonathan Hurd, Altman director, in a statement.
This year’s survey on consumer video habits (an annual offering by Altman) was conducted online to more than 3,400 U.S. consumers.
It found that the abundance of dedicated apps from traditional publishers and linear channels for video streaming is leaving viewers feeling overwhelmed, and looking for simpler solutions.
According to Hurd, the increasing availability of mobile technology and competition from SVODs like Netflix and Hulu have led cable and satellite TV providers to increase the adoption of “TV Everywhere” plans, giving subscribers access (usually for free) to content online.
But, he cautioned, a “flooded marketplace” and a lack of consumer awareness have “severely limited TV Everywhere’s adoption.”
The survey found that 70% of consumers have not downloaded any network or cable channel apps at all, while 86% said they wanted a single app to aggregate their video viewing.
By far the most popular downloaded network app is ESPN (downloaded by 27% of users who had downloaded at least one video app), according to the survey. The ESPN app was downloaded most by users age 18 to 34. The next most popular apps were by CBS (18%), NBC (18%), ABC (16%) and Fox (8%).
For their part, none of the companies mentioned have made public exactly how many users have downloaded their apps. Most channels have created multiple apps (such as Fox, which has a sports app and an on-demand entertainment app), while some have created apps with multiple tiers (the CBS app contains different features for subscribers to CBS’s SVOD, CBS All Access).
It wasn’t all bad news, however. The survey found the percentage of consumers watching TV shows and movies online continues to grow, with 60% of those 55 and older now watching shows via OTT weekly, up from 48% in 2014. Young millennials (18 to 24) still outpace other age groups, with 89% now watching TV shows and movies online weekly.
Other key findings include:
- More than half of all adults under age 25 binge watch TV shows on Netflix at least weekly, and younger adults are generally most likely to binge-watch TV shows (defined as watching three or more episodes in a single sitting).
- Young millennials are most likely to share Netflix accounts between multiple households, with 25% of survey respondents in the 18 to 24 age range reporting sharing an account with someone outside of their household (which, according to the survey, suggests that many college students use their parents’ accounts).
- The second highest level of account borrowing came from respondents 55 and over, which points to a generational reversal with older parents poaching Netflix services from their adult children, according to the survey.