Are TV Viewers Ready to Order a la Carte? - eMarketer

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Are TV Viewers Ready to Order a la Carte?

About six in 10 internet users would consider switching to a pick-and-choose TV service

May 21, 2015

US consumers are plenty familiar with paying for TV content. In an April 2015 study by YouGov for Irdeto, 67% of US adult internet users said they paid for the majority of TV content they viewed, vs. 15% who mainly watched free TV and 4% who typically used free online services to download or stream shows.

US Internet Users Who Would Consider Switching to an a la Carte TV Service*, April 2015 (% of respondents)

Among those who paid for the majority of TV content watched in their home, using a monthly subscription service via a cable or satellite provider was the typical way to go, cited by 67%. In comparison, just 15% mainly used a set-top box or streaming device from a telecom provider and 14% an over-the-top service.

However, further results indicated that those tied to a monthly cable or satellite package were interested in mixing it up—and taking more control over the content they were paying for. Among all internet users polled, about six in 10 said they would consider switching to an a la carte TV service—that is, a paid TV package where users can select specific channels or content instead of a standard bundle of TV channels. Around one-quarter had yet to decide.

Preferred Pay TV Subscription Model Among US Pay TV Subscribers, 2012-2014 (% of respondents)

November 2014 research by Deloitte also found a shift in consumer attitudes toward a la carte options. In 2014, US pay TV subscribers were most likely to prefer to subscribe only to the channels they watched regularly, cited by 52%, vs. 42% two years prior. This put this group above the share of respondents who preferred to subscribe to a package of channels even if they didn’t regularly watch them all for the first time.

Cost was, unsurprisingly, a main driver of consumers’ growing interest in nontraditional subscription options. Three-quarters of internet users who would consider switching to a pick-and-choose TV service in the Irdeto and YouGov study said they would do so because they didn’t want to pay for a lot of channels they didn’t watch, and 53% said it would be cheaper. However, power is also appealing, as 62% said they wanted more control over the channels they paid for. If consumers are going to pay for TV, they want it to be on their own terms.


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