If the folks who are responsible for beaming content to your eyeballs are to be believed, streamers are thirsty for more ads of all things.
A survey of 4,526 adults in the U.S. and Canada published by TiVo today claims that a whopping 79% of the survey’s respondents reported wanting to use a free and ad-supported service rather than pay for another one. While 81% said they wished Prime Video and Netflix offered free tiers with ads, 80% of respondents reported a difference in the quality of the content on many free, ad-supported platforms—more specifically, that it’s worse.
That is, for the most part, true, an exception maybe being Peacock (if you really like NBC). On services like IMDb TV and Vudu, for example, you typically have to comb through a lot of so-so content to find something recent and decent to watch. A bunch of premium services like Hulu and CBS All Access do offer cheaper, ad-supported versions of their products, but those still both cost a few bucks a month for access.
Subscription fatigue is real. There are too many services, not enough good stuff to keep us occupied on any single platform, and ballooning subscription costs have made the investment in cutting the cord less of a cost-saving measure as one of access and convenience. Plus, streaming giants have figured out they can charge people premiums to access originals and bigger budget titles. Disney, for example, charged households $30 for early access to the live-action remake of Mulan last year—on top of their monthly subscription costs.
People are willing to pay for them, too. According to TiVo’s survey findings, 29% of respondents reported being interested in paying to view a new movie from their homes during this time. Some 31% said they would pay to stream new films at home even after the pandemic. (Though on the flip side, 51% said they weren’t interested in paying to watch a movie from home during the pandemic, while 45% of respondents said they wouldn’t want to pay to stream a new movie at home post-pandemic.)
But still, ads?! Ads! The prospect of ads on a Big Serious Movie produced by Netflix or premiering on HBO Max seems ridiculous—a problem HBO Max is reportedly struggling with as it readies its misguided ads rollout—and I can’t imagine that creators would be especially hype on the idea either. Obviously, it would be fantastic if some of the existing free, ad-supported services made their offerings a little more attractive, focusing on quality over quantity. But shuffling ads into the mix in exchange for more free stuff is not going to fix our streaming hell.
Please, do not give the corporate chiefs in charge of running these services any more ideas.