Streaming overtook linear TV in viewing time on Samsung smart TV sets in 2020

Viewing on both linear TV and streaming increased, research from Samsung Ads shows.

Samsung: report found big increase in both streaming and linear TV viewing
Samsung: report found big increase in both streaming and linear TV viewing

The time people spent watching TV via streaming services overtook time spent watching linear TV channels on Samsung smart TV sets during 2020, according to research from Samsung Ads.

It examined viewing data from people in the UK and four other key European markets – France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Samsung Ads’ Decoding the on-demand TV landscape report showed that on Samsung Smart TVs, streaming time in the five markets studies increased from 49% of viewing time in January to 54% in December, with linear viewing time decreasing from 51% in January to 46% in December.

Figures for the UK show that overall TV viewership increased dramatically in 2020, with the average time spent streaming up 62% to three hours and five minutes per day.

Average time spent watching linear TV rose almost as sharply, by 58% to two hours and 24 minutes per day.

Viewing time for subscription video-on-demand – platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ – grew by 43%.

SVOD had the largest share of streaming time in the UK in 2020, accounting for 55%, compared with 29% for ad-supported VOD (platforms such as Rakuten TV, Pluto TV and Samsung TV Plus), 14% for broadcaster VOD and 2% for transactional VOD. 

SVOD's share of streaming time hardly changed between January and December, increasing from 54% to 55% – while in Europe it fell by one percentage point.

The report points to how some viewers have perhaps started to reach "maximum spend" on monthly subscriptions but are expanding their sources, such as looking for free content alongside their subscription packages.

Alex Hole, vice-president of Samsung Ads Europe, said: “Last year was a disruptive year for every industry. It’s clear that in TV, the events of 2020 accelerated growth but also fragmentation across formats. As viewers get used to choosing what and when they watch, advertisers have an opportunity to evolve around those choices.

"The growth of streaming shows that appetite for content is only growing. This is a trend we expect to see continuing into 2021 as content options proliferate and viewers increasingly ‘go with the show’, hunting for new ways to find favoured content.”

Samsung Ads’ latest report follows on from a previous one, Behind the Screens. This examined the TV habits of Samsung’s UK customer base in the first half of 2020, from January to June.

Industry analysts point out that on-demand viewing on smart TV sets only accounts for a small proportion of video advertising viewing.

Data from Thinkbox showed that across all viewers in 2020, linear TV continued to make up the large majority of video viewing time, although both subscription and broadcaster video-on-demand increased their share. 

Editor’s note: Campaign has updated the headline on this story, which originally read: Streaming overtook linear TV in viewing time in 2020, Samsung report finds

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