The rise of internet-based streaming television options continued to eat into the dominance of traditional pay TV companies in 2017. But streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are also facing some of the challenges that have plagued the long-time kings of bringing TV into American living rooms.
That's according to a survey of TV watchers from consulting giant PwC, which in October questioned 1,986 Americans between the ages of 18 and 59, with household incomes of at least $40,000, about their TV-watching sources and their decisions about what services they used for watching TV.
The survey showed that 73 percent of respondents subscribed to traditional pay TV from either a cable or satellite provider, down from 76 percent in 2016 and 79 percent in 2015. While that figure remains impressive, it illustrates the impact that so-called "cord cutting" has had on the pay TV industry.
Meanwhile, the number of consumers watching TV via streaming services is rising. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents who subscribed to pay TV also said they subscribed to Netflix. Among those between the ages of 18 and 24, 87 percent said they watched TV from the internet while 90 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 watched online, and 78 percent of those aged 35-49.
But, even as streaming TV has grown in popularity, those who use it say they have concerns about the difficulty of managing multiple, individual streaming options and the rising costs of such services.
PwC said 75 percent of consumers feel like they can't handle having more than four different streaming services, in addition to their pay TV subscriptions. Cord cutters also said that even while having an average of more than three services available to them, they watched an average of just 1.8 of those services regularly.
Part of the reason for that is just finding something to watch on a particular streaming service. For example, aside from original, exclusive shows, what Netflix has won't necessarily be carried on Hulu or Amazon Prime. And adding more-specific streaming options like Sundance TV (which is heavy on independent films, shows and documentaries), Acorn TV (an abundance of British, Australian and some other European shows) and MHz (exclusively non-English programs from Europe) can lead viewers to spend more time searching for a show than actually watching something.
PwC said that because of such factors, streaming services need to make their content easier to discover, explore and watch. The ease of use, and familiarity of pay TV services, remains a major factor in the cable and satellite TV providers' favor, said PwC.
Those who have cut, or even trimmed their pay TV services, reported that they are paying more for their streaming options. Netflix said in October that it will raise the price of its most-popular streaming plan from $9.99 a month to $10.99, and upped the fee for a plan that allows simultaneous streaming on up to four devices from $11.99 a month to $13.99. Many other streaming options charge between $5 and $15 a month, depending on the service.
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