Survey: Viewers Prefer Having the Choice Between Paid and Ad-Supported Subscription Tiers

When it comes to streaming services, it’s clear that viewers love options. That’s why we’ve seen so many new platforms launch within the last few years and do so well. A new survey from Hub Research proves that streamers also appreciate having options when it comes to their subscription offerings.

Group 1 of survey respondents were given the hypothetical choice of an ad-free streaming service, a free, ad-supported option, and a paid service with limited ads. Group 2 had the same options, but replaced the limited-ads service with a paid service offering two tiers to choose from… ad-free and ad-supported.

The results? Almost twice as many consumers chose the service with tiered options (36%) as the service with a limited-ad option only (19%). The limited ads-only service got a much lower share than either the paid ad-free service or the free-with-ads service.

In a real-life scenario, Hub asked its survey respondents about HBO Max before it launched its ad-supported tier earlier this summer, and more than a quarter of non-HBO Max subscribers polled said they would consider signing up if there was a less expensive, ad-supported tier available. What’s more, almost 40% of current HBO Max subs said they’d consider switching to the ad-supported tier as well.

“It’s true that some TV viewers will do almost anything, including paying a premium, to avoid ads. But there are many who will choose ad-supported TV if it saves money or lets them watch a show they can’t watch somewhere else”, said Jon Giegengack, one of the study authors. “Tiered plans give viewers control of their experience.  Whether they watch with ads or not, everyone is getting an experience they chose, and not one chosen for them.”  

Hub’s “Monetization of Video” study was fielded in June 2021, among 1,607 US TV viewers age 16-74.