What Advertisers Really Need to Know About SVOD Viewership | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

What Advertisers Really Need to Know About SVOD Viewership


Is it too obvious to state that advertisers can only run commercials on platforms that allow advertising? And is it too much to ask that marketers can access information showing them how many viewers can and cannot view ads on SVOD platforms?

Streaming services are still very much in the media spotlight, but data available to advertisers for both subscription-based and free services lack key information. Industry measurement giant Nielsen provides The Gauge report on total viewing, but it doesn't include crucial info about how many viewers can see ads – an essential piece of information needed by marketers to make informed advertising decisions.

Missing Measurement

A closer look at Nielsen's The Gauge monthly streaming video chart shows that the largest viewership does not come from ad-supported, free services like Roku, but from paid tiered services like Netflix, whose viewership, according to The Gauge, includes both ad-supported and ad-free options. It is a huge problem for marketers that The Gauge report does not differentiate between ad-supported and ad-free tiered subscriptions in its total viewing numbers. Why? Because marketers cannot tell how many viewers on these tiered services are seeing their ads, and therefore must make campaign planning decisions based on misleading data.

2023 SVOD Study

To help clarify how many viewers are seeing ads, TVB commissioned GfK to conduct a streaming video (SVOD) usage survey. The survey was designed to better understand the choices that consumers of tiered services make. Do they opt to pay a higher fee to view ad-free content, or do they pay a lower fee to subscribe with ads?

The online survey included 4,000 respondents aligned with Census Bureau demographic data. Each respondent was asked whether they subscribe to a tiered paid streaming service with ads, without ads, or both (at least one TV in the home connected to an ad-free version and another with ads). Respondents had the opportunity to take the survey in English or Spanish.

GfK study results for adults aged 18 and older show that two thirds of respondents subscribe to Netflix, making it the number one SVOD service. Of these Netflix subscribers, 74 percent opted to pay the higher cost and get an ad-free subscription. Similarly, 71 percent of Disney+ and Max subscribers subscribed without ads. Among 18 to 34-year-old Netflix subscribers the number goes up even higher as 81 percent subscribe without ads.

This is an issue for marketers because all these viewers are counted in The Gauge report with no differentiation between ad-supported and ad-free.

Other key findings for marketers from the 2023 GfK SVOD Study:

How Consumers Stream

  • 95 percent of respondents have a TV in their home. The average number of TV's per home is 2.6 and 22 percent of all homes have 4 or more TV's.
  • The streaming device of choice is the TV, even for Apple TV+.

Ad-Free versus Ad-Supported SVOD Services

  • 92 percent of respondents have at least one ad-free streaming service and yet, only 8 percent exclusively have service(s) with ads.

Local TV Reaches Ad-Free SVOD Viewers

  • Local TV news is the most trusted news source. Local TV news websites/apps are the most trusted digital source, while social media is the least trusted platform.
  • 81 percent of respondents were exposed to local broadcast TV news either on a TV or through an app/website.
  • Broadcast TV and local TV news website/apps reach 88 percent of those who subscribe to ad-free SVOD services.

SVOD Viewership Across Demos

  • Younger adults tend to have more SVOD subscriptions than older adults and are more likely to have ad-free subscriptions.
  • Hispanics and Black/African Americans have more TV's than the average population and tend to have more SVOD subscriptions.
  • Hispanics are more likely to have ad-free streaming subscriptions.

Findings from this study highlight the need for suppliers of viewing data to provide advertisers with the data they need to make sound marketing decisions. Marketers deserve accurate measurement industry-wide so they can effectively reach desired consumers.

Hadassa Gerber is the Chief Research Officer at TVB.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.