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TODD SMITH – Streaming service subscription fatigue hits consumers

TODD SMITH

We live in an increasingly prevalent on demand, streaming world to keep us entertained when and where we want, on any device we want – from traditional TV sets to tablets to smart phones to laptops.

But in the constant quest to have everything on demand at our fingertips, we have become ensnared in a tangled web of booming subscription services, which gives us more options than ever.

That streaming tidal wave includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, CBS All Access, Showtime and YouTube Premium. Even more are flooding the airwaves with Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and others promising to enter the fray in a big way.

The bustling river of blockbuster entertainment has a flip side of the coin.

Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. consumers say they’re frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want, according to the 13th edition of Deloitte’s annual Digital Media Trends survey.

A bigger bane – 57 percent said they’re frustrated when content vanishes because rights to their favorite TV shows or movies have expired.

“Consumers want choice – but only up to a point,” Kevin Westcott, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader, who oversees the study told Variety. “We may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue.’”

Today, the average U.S. consumer subscribes to three video streaming services. Some 43 percent subscribe to both pay-TV and streaming services, according to Deloitte’s survey. People are borrowing a playbook from cable and satellite providers, creating their own entertainment bundles from multiple providers.

The avalanche of content can be perplexing,

Nearly half (49 percent) of consumers in the study said the sheer amount of content available on subscription VOD makes it hard to choose what to watch. Meanwhile, consumers say they know exactly what they want to watch 69 percent of the time, but 48 percent say content is hard to find across multiple services. And 49 percent give up on searching for content if they can’t find it quickly.

Deloitte’s survey found robust growth in streaming video subscription services – 69 percent of households now subscribe to one or more – and streaming music services (41 percent). Pay TV remained relatively flat with 65 percent of U.S. households subscribing to cable, satellite or telco TV.

Other interesting findings from the survey:

» Originals drive subscriptions: High-quality original content continues to be a dominant factor in streaming video growth, with 57 percent of all current U.S. streaming consumers (and 71 percent of millennials, ages 22-35) saying they subscribe to streaming video services to access original content.

» TV ad loads: 75 percent of consumers say they would be more satisfied with pay-TV service if there were fewer ads, and 77 percent said ads on pay TV should be under 10 seconds. Respondents indicated eight minutes of ads per hour of programming was the reasonable upper bound – while they also said 16 minutes or more of commercials per hour is the point they would stop watching.

» Voice assistants: Ownership of voice-enabled home speakers grew 140 percent year-over-year in 2018, with total penetration soaring from 15 percent to 36 percent. The top five uses of voice-enabled digital assistants are playing music, searching for information, getting directions, making phone calls and setting alerts. However, half of consumers said they don’t use voice-enabled digital assistants at all, and only 18 percent claimed to use if daily.

» Data privacy: Consumers are increasingly wary of how companies handle their data, with 82 percent saying they don’t believe companies do enough to protect their personal data. Just seven percent of respondents believe the government should play a role in protecting their data.

» Video games: 41 percent of U.S. consumers play games at least weekly; among Gen Z (14-21) consumers, 54 percent do. Gaming consoles are being used more often as an entertainment hub for streaming TV/movie content (46 percent), watch online content (42 percent), browse the internet (34 percent), stream music (25 percent), and stream eSports (11 percent).

» Esports: One-third of U.S. consumers watch esports (a form of video game competition) at least once a week – and 54 percent of Gen Z respondents do.

The U.S. data for the 13th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends survey was collected from an online survey of 2,003 consumers fielded from December 2018 to February 2019. Additional findings from the study are available here.

Handcuffed Mic | Michael Avenatti charged with attempted extortion of Nike, bank fraud

The bombastic, vitriolic, media hungry attorney who has made a career of attacking powerful politicians for alleged fraudulent activity has had the tables turned on him.

Attorney Michael Avenatti – who seized the spotlight last year as a lawyer for former adult-film actress Stormy Daniels – was arrested earlier this week and charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike Inc., as well as bank fraud in a separate case.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Avenatti with extortion and conspiracy, alleging he told lawyers for Nike that he and an unnamed co-conspirator would release damaging information about the company if Nike didn’t pay them to conduct an “internal investigation” and to settle a client’s claim, according to a complaint unsealed Monday.

In a separate criminal complaint, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles alleged that Avenatti embezzled a client’s money to pay his own expenses and cover debts, including for his law firm and coffee business, and defrauded a bank using phony tax returns. Those charges grew out of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service into Avenatti’s businesses, prosecutors in California told The Wall Street Journal.

Avenatti faces six charges in the two districts.

The allegations related to Nike came to the attention of New York prosecutors after Avenatti attempted to reach Nike through its outside counsel earlier this month, according to court records.

In California, Avenatti faces wire-fraud charges stemming from a $1.6 million settlement he collected in early 2018 on behalf of a client in an intellectual-property dispute but allegedly used to pay his own personal and business expenses, according to media reports.

Avenatti also faces bank fraud charges from misrepresentations he allegedly made to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million from a bank in Mississippi.

Avenatti became a media fixture in early 2018, after The Wall Street Journal broke news that Daniels was paid $130,000 on the eve of the 2016 election by a lawyer for Donald Trump to silence her about an alleged sexual encounter about a decade earlier with the then-Republican candidate. Avenatti sued Trump on Daniels’ behalf in an attempt to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement she had signed.

Avenatti also represented a woman who brought allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process, and briefly considered a presidential run. Those allegations weren’t independently confirmed.

Now, the proverbial shoe has switched feet, and in the court of public opinion, it’s a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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