05/11/2020   Richard Broughton
A year apart: The SVoD age gap begins to narrow

It is a well-understood dynamic that younger consumers are more frequently earlier adopters of new products and services. The subscription online video world is certainly no exception, and the most rapid uptake of the category of products including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, has—to date—been among the 18-24 and 25-34 year old age brackets.

In the UK and US, the typical 18-24 year old now believes they spend an average of over 1 hour 40 minutes each day watching videos via subscription video-on-demand services. And the 25-34 year old group shows similar behaviour. By contrast, the older age brackets consume much less content via video-on-demand. 55-64 year olds in the USA believe they spend roughly 40 minutes each day watching subscription online video, while their UK counterparts spend just 20 minutes.

Given the extensive period of time over which online video products have been available in each market, one might conclude that older consumers will remain loyal broadcast viewers (and subscription online video products will stay a minority contributor to their viewing patterns) for some time. However, the pace of change of viewing behaviours has been rapid over the last year. The average UK and US 55-64 year old's subscription OTT viewing increased by over 50% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020.

Perhaps most importantly, the data indicates that each age group now lags the next by just one year. The average 55-64 year old's daily subscription video-on-demand viewing now matches that of the average 45-54 year old's viewing in the prior year—roughly 20 minutes in the UK and 40 minutes in the USA. Similarly, the average 45-54 year old is currently watching the same volume of subscription video-on-demand as their 35-44 year-old counterparts watched on a typical day in Q3 2019.

At face value, this trend would imply that by 2025, 55-64 year olds will be watching as much subscription video-on-demand as 18-24 year olds do now. But to assume this would likely be premature. 2020 has been a unique year, and demand for entertainment content during lockdown has temporarily accelerated some of the underlying sectoral and behavioural changes. Nonetheless, the speed of the viewing shifts which have occurred during the last 12 months indicates that under the right conditions and with the right incentives, video consumption behaviours can change very rapidly indeed. 

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