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For a long time we've been talking about the slow death of live TV, as streaming platforms and TV On Demand platforms have become available, thanks to stuff like Netflix and DVR. While traditional TV still makes up the bulk of TV subscriptions in US homes, it's clear that these other formats are gaining ground. But do more people actually subscribe in streaming services or do more prefer to catch up on traditional TV programs via DVR? The answer might surprise you. In fact, right now, the services are tied.
Reports this week indicate that SVOD services, aka Subscription Video On Demand, services are currently available in 50% of US homes. The new numbers also indicate that DVR services are also available in 50% of US homes, according to a new Nielsen report. In terms of usage, people are still watching regular television and listening to AM/FM radio the most. There's still more reach for those platforms than app and web use on smartphones, although smartphones are continually gaining ground.
What we find most intriguing about this report is not that SVOD penetration currently matches DVR penetration, but what that could say about the future. Services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have continued to be more popular, while DVR subscriptions have slowed down over recent years. This isn't a horse race to see which one could reach highest penetration, first. DVR penetration has slowed down over time while SVOD use continues to grow as the various options add new original content and work out deals for syndicated shows that might not otherwise be available to non-cable subscribers.
Of course, there are a lot of US households that have access to a slew of different mediums, including regular television, DVR and at least one subscription streaming service. As previously reported, Netflix is the most popular streaming service, ranking #1 in terms of subscriber count and beating out the likes of Hulu, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access and a slew of others.
While regular TV is clearly still more popular than other mediums, the Nielsen report doesn't indicate whether different demographics are interested in different types of content. We have to guess that a lot of older people still have a regular TV subscription, while younger factions might be quicker to embrace TV alternatives, including Hulu, which allows access to a lot of network programs a day or so after they air on regular TV.
The TV world is clearly changing. We'll let you know if and when SVOD surpasses DVR and eventually takes over TV as we know it. Hopefully, by that point the streaming services will have a better initialism to go by.