VIZIO and Adelaide, an attention-based media quality analyst group, released a report on Monday that shows free ad-supported streaming services outperformed linear TV and overall programming at connected TVs when it came to engagement.
Adelaide‘s CTV attention metric is designed with opt-in eye-tracking data from TVision. The report found free ad-supported platforms exceeded connected TV programming by 20-25% and linear TV by 35-40%. According to Adelaide’s data, both CTV and linear TV already garner stronger-than-average attention compared to traditional digital channels.
The report found the benchmarks of free platforms are on par with the biggest advertising-based video-on-demand platforms, such as Hulu and Peacock, and more recently, Disney+ and Netflix. Free ad-supported streaming services were also on track with virtual multichannel video programming distributor apps like YouTube TV, Philo, Sling TV, Fubo, and Hulu+ Live TV by volume. They run counter to the idea that free, ad-supported streams are just something you put on in the background vs. more intentional on-demand shows and films.
“These findings disprove the narrative of inattention or lesser value in FAST environments,” said Devin Fallon, senior director of media insights and analytics at VIZIO. “As subscription fatigue sets in, viewers are increasingly augmenting their streaming bundles with free services, and this ensures advertisers that FAST environments can drive both upper and lower funnel ROI.”
The study shows viewers are just as likely, if not more so, to pay attention to free content than paid subscriptions or TV broadcasts. As platforms like Apple TV+, Disney+, and Hulu recently raised prices, subscription fatigue grows among subscribers who look to cull the number of memberships they pay for and supplement their entertainment choices with free services.
A study published by Statistica today also shows a strong preference for cheaper ad-supported tiers. Its findings show 64% of viewers would opt for ads if they could save $4-5 a month, while 36% of respondents said they’d pay a similar amount to avoid commercials, down from 43% in 2022.
Today also marks the beginning of ads on Prime Video, which has taken a different approach to ad-supported streaming. Instead of offering an ad-supported tier for a reduced price, Prime Video opted to roll out ads across its platform and offer an ad-free version for an additional $2.99 a month. Other streamers, such as Netflix, Disney+, and Max, offer cheaper prices for those who sign up for plans with ads.