Ad-Supported Streaming Is Having A Moment

Every year media companies, brands, and agencies come together for what’s known as “Upfronts” to negotiate where, when, and how billions of dollars in advertising will be spent and when, where, and how those ads will run. With many of the streaming services’ parent companies set to hold their Upfront presentations this week, we thought it made sense to check in on the ad-supported streaming segment.

Not too long ago, the working assumption in the media industry was that the rise in streaming would mean a new era of ad-free viewing. Fast forward to Q4’23 and the streaming industry crossed a major milestone with the majority of Gross Subscriber Additions choosing ad-supported plans for the first time. Antenna found that in Q4’23, 51% of Gross Adds were ad-supported; the share of ad-supported Gross Adds increased to 56% in Q1’24.

Consumer openness to advertising varies significantly by service. In Q1’24, Antenna found that 79% of Peacock’s Gross Adds went to an ad-supported plan, the largest share among the nine services included in the analysis, followed by 62% for Hulu, 61% for both Paramount+ and Discovery+, and 58% for Disney+*. Comparatively, Netflix, Max, AMC+, and BET+ all saw the majority of their Gross Adds for the quarter opting for ad-free plans. While Netflix ad-supported plans accounted for 40% of Gross Adds in Q1’24, it’s worth noting that this is significant growth over Q1’23 where 18% of Gross Adds for Netflix were ad-supported.  

Sports programming and, specifically, the NFL helped to drive Gross Additions overall for the quarter with two significant acquisition moments occurring in Q1’24. As Antenna previously reported, Peacock’s exclusive streaming coverage of the AFC Wild Card Game in January generated 3.0M Sign-ups and Super Bowl LVIII in February, which was available on Paramount+, brought in 3.4M.  Because sports programming on these services features ad breaks even for ad-free users, consumers signing up for those games are likely to lean more towards ad-supported plans.

For more detailed information on Antenna’s methodology and definitions of core metrics, please visit

* As footnoted in the chart, because Antenna’s data excludes distribution via MVPD, these figures do not include Disney+ via Charter.

Brendan Brady is a Content Strategy Associate at Antenna, a measurement and analytics company providing insight into purchase behavior and subscription metrics across the new media landscape.