Why Ad-Supported Streaming Plans Are Here To Stay

Last week, some of the biggest media companies presented their planned programming slates to advertisers during the 2023 Advertising Upfronts. Where brands and media buyers ultimately decide to put their money will continue to be hashed out through the summer, but without a doubt the increase in ad-supported streaming plans has created more opportunities for advertisers to reach U.S. consumers. And looking at Antenna data, ad-supported options are likely here to stay.

For one, U.S. consumers are choosing ad-supported options. In 2022, ad-supported plan tiers accounted for nearly 1 in 3 (32%) Premium SVOD sign-ups, up from below 1 in 5 (18%) in 2020. Year-over-year, ad-supported sign-ups grew +29.8% from 34.3M in 2021 to 44.5M in 2022. Comparatively, sign-ups for ad-free plans grew just +8.7% YoY, from 87.0M in 2021 to 94.5M in 2022.

Looking at the overall picture, ad-supported plan tiers accounted for 1 in 4 (25%) of Premium SVOD subscriptions by the end of Q1’23. Year-over-year, ad-supported subscriptions grew +24.6%, from 44.3M in Q1’22 to 55.2M in Q1’23, and ad-supported subscriptions are growing at a CAGR of +32.1%. Meanwhile, ad-free subscriptions grew just +6.5% YoY, from 159.4M in Q1’22 to 169.8M in Q1’23, with a CAGR of +19.2% (2019 - 2023).

To be clear, this doesn’t mean ad-free plans are on their way out! But as competition grows and there are more services and plans from which to choose, consumers will follow suit by becoming more sophisticated—likely spending more, but also considering their decisions more closely.

For more detailed information on Antenna’s methodology and definitions of core metrics, please visit http://www.antenna.live/methodology

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.