Streaming now most popular TV source in Canada

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 
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TV Streaming Now the Most Popular TV Source, with Ad-Supported TV Streaming Rapidly Growing

  • 75 per cent of surveyed Canadian internet users* are TV streamers, the majority of which are now watching ad-supported TV (59 per cent), up from 42 per cent in 2022
  • “Cord cutters” are on the rise with a quarter of Canadian TV streamers that have cable (24 per cent) planning to cancel or downgrade their cable or satellite package in the next 12 months

TORONTO — Today, Roku revealed the results of its annual Video on Demand (VOD) Evolution study, examining Canadian TV streaming behaviours and trends. TV streaming is now the most popular TV source (75 per cent of Canadian internet users are watching), with ad-supported TV streamers increasing exponentially in the last year alone (59 per cent watching in the last year compared to 42 per cent in the previous year). Another 63 per cent also plan to watch ad-supported TV streaming in the year ahead.

Rising inflation and cost of living, which top the list of worries for Canadian TV streamers in the next few years (54 per cent), compel many (24 per cent) to cancel or downgrade their cable/satellite package in the next 12 months (up six per cent from 2022).

“For Canadian TV streamers, ad-supported TV offers the benefits of a lighter ad load compared to broadcast TV, with the added benefit of being cost-effective, which is what makes it so appealing – especially in today’s economic climate,” says Christina Summers, Head of Advertising in Canada, Roku. “For advertisers and publishers alike, the uptick in interest in ad-supported TV streaming, along with TV streaming generally, enables greater reach beyond traditional TV broadcasting, stronger targeting, measurement, interactivity, and flexibility with creative.”

The growth of ad-supported TV streaming: A deeper dive into the trends

  • Time spent on AVOD and BVOD is up 32 per cent YoY, with TV streamers who watch ad-supported programming watching.
  • When it comes to the effectiveness of ads on streaming platforms, TV streamers are significantly more responsive to ads than non-streamers (70 per cent vs. 54 per cent).
  • TV streamers are taking measurable actions after viewing an ad, with the top three responses being: visiting a brand’s website, online store, or app after seeing an ad (38 per cent); searching online for more information about the product/brand while continuing to watch TV (36 per cent); and placing items in online/app shopping basket to buy later (25 per cent).

“The engagement that ads on TV streaming versus those on more traditional platforms get is unmatched,” says Summers. “Not only is the audience group larger, but the ad formats available to appease these actions, such as interactive ads with direct website call-to-actions, is diverse and continues to expand every day. Tapping into the TV streaming audience is a great opportunity for many brands to reach consumers who have made the move to streaming exclusively and to win new customers who may not have discovered them before.”

When it comes to Canadians’ preferences for TV advertising, there are some notable polarities, as no one size fits all trends:

  • Canadians are split on personalization, with 50 per cent wanting ads to cater to their personal interests/preferences, and the other 50 per cent wanting impersonal ads.
  • 54 per cent of TV streamers like ads that are unrelated to the show/movie they are watching, while 46 per cent prefer them to be related.
  • 51 per cent prefer a single ad that takes up the whole ad break, while 49 per cent prefer lots of short ads that fill the ad break.
  • The majority of Canadians (77 per cent) are in broad agreement that they prefer every ad to be different.

TV streamers on the move: The “FlexiVOD” era

The emergence of the “FlexiVOD” (a TV streamer who makes changes to their streaming services, including switching to watch their favourite show, cancelling subscriptions, among others), which surfaced in the 2023 VOD study, continues to remain prevalent in the 2024 edition, as 48 per cent of Canadian TV streamers either have made changes to their streaming services in the past 12 months or plan to make changes in the year ahead. Similar to last year’s findings, this persisting trend is likely influenced by the fact that 58 per cent of TV streamers feel they have less disposable income than before, consistent with last year’s results.

Canadian TV streamers’ content-watching trends

  • On average, TV streamers are watching just under 22 hours a week of TV content.
  • Canadian TV streamers love dramas (95 per cent) ranking it as their top TV genre choice.
  • On the flipside, while comedy is the least popular, 87 per cent are streaming that genre. When it comes to live news, 48 per cent of Canadian TV streamers tune in, followed by general family entertainment (e.g., “How I Met Your Mother,” “Friends”) at 50 per cent and live sports and events at 45 per cent.

When it comes to discovering content to watch, TV streamers use a variety of methods. The top three within TV streaming platforms include the “just released” section (42 per cent); the “top trending” or most popular titles sections (34 per cent); and “free to watch” shows and movies (31 per cent).

Outside of the TV streaming service, the top three methods include: word of mouth/personal recommendations (50 per cent); “coming soon” notifications (36 per cent); and ads they’ve seen on TV promoting shows or movies (31 per cent).

Additional study insights

  • On average, Canadian TV streamers have used/subscribed to 3.5 paid or free streaming services in their household in 2023, which is anticipated to increase to 3.8 by 2024.
  • Here’s how Canadian TV streamers spend their time watching TV in an average week:
    • 26 per cent of time on live TV
    • 20 per cent on new releases available for the first time
    • 19 per cent on new-to-them releases available
    • 18 per cent on repeat watching
    • 17 per cent on other online video through the TV

About Roku’s VOD Evolution Canada Survey

Roku’s annual Video on Demand (VOD) Evolution study examined Canadian TV streaming behaviour and trends. This is Roku’s fourth study of Canadians’ TV streaming habits, and an update to its research in 2022. Like those, this study is based on the results of an online survey of Canadian adults aged 18+ who use the internet and watched TV at least once in the last month. Fuse Insights research commissioned by Roku took place between June and July 2023, with a sample size of 2,100 Canadians nationally representative by age, gender, and geography. *References TV streamers that make up internet users in Canada aged 18-64.

Links: Roku