What Is Subscription Fatigue & What Does It Mean for the Future of Streaming?


Think for a moment: How many streaming services are you subscribed to? Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV… the list seemingly goes on and on with more streaming services entering the arena every year. Srinivasan KA, the co-founder of Amagi, sheds light on subscription fatigue and how it could impact the future of streaming.

 Initially, opting into streaming was a way for consumers to save money, an alternative to cable. Now, with so many services out there and each offering its own can’t-miss content, consumers are subscribed to a plethora of services with a plethora of viewing choices. 

 And they’re sick of it. 

 It’s called subscription fatigue, and, according to Deloitte’s Annual Digital Media Trends surveyOpens a new window , nearly 47% of U.S. consumers are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions required to watch what they want.

 So how can streaming platforms address this feeling of overwhelm, helping consumers manage their wallets while still discovering the content they want to see? It’s all about delivering the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right consumer—and the key is free ad-supported TV (FAST).

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Craving a Seamless “Lean Back” Experience

As streaming and connected TV has grown in popularity, so too has “subscription fatigue,” the sense of being overwhelmed by the amount of content available. Ironically, the more choices we have, the harder it can be to find something we want to watch.

According to a J.D. Power surveyOpens a new window , Americans now subscribe to four streaming services on average, spending around $47 per month as of December 2020. This is up from $38 in April 2020, a 24% increase. As this number has ticked upward, and the list of OTT video options continues to grow—currently, there are more than 300 available in the US—consumers are growing weary of the increasing cost of streaming while also facing increased barriers to content discovery.

Audiences crave a comfortable ‘lean back’ experience—an easier, more passive way to access content without the stress caused by an overabundance of choices.  

FAST vs. Video on Demand

We’re all familiar with the big players in the on-demand subscription video market-dominating forces like Netflix and Amazon. But while these companies may be the established goliaths of the streaming world, new contenders are emerging in the form of free ad-supported models. And they are, in many cases, pulling ahead in the race for consumer attention and loyalty, as well as ad revenue.

 While on-demand platforms are ad-free – a perk many viewers appreciate – they often come with a heftier price tag. On the other hand, free ad-supported TV is free, as the name suggests. This can be an attractive prospect to customers who are tired of paying for many streaming services. What’s more, FAST platforms can serve up highly targeted ads to viewers, presenting them with relevant, personalized ad content that may be more engaging – or non-abrasive – for them to watch.

In addition, with on-demand streaming services, content discovery is a genuine problem. When consumers enter a platform like Netflix, the first thing they are faced with is a screen full of content options. Finding the right show or movie to watch can feel overwhelming – especially when consumers have multiple subscriptions to choose from.

 Meanwhile, FAST channels offer a more linear, passive experience for viewers. They can simply turn on a channel they like, lean back and enjoy, no choices necessary. In some ways, it’s more like the traditional cable viewing experience of the past. Because there is side a wide range of genres available – news, sports, documentaries, movies, food, music, and even Elvis Presley (!) – designed specifically around a consumer’s interests and personal tastes, consumers can now access the content they want in a simpler, more direct way. 

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Why FAST Is the Future for Content Producers and Advertisers 

Not only is FAST a viable consumer alternative to on-demand streaming platforms, but consumers are clearly shifting their time and attention toward this model. And, good news, so are advertisers.

200 millionOpens a new window global viewers and 47%Opens a new window of US consumers are watching ad-supported platforms like Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Pluto, STIRR and Amazon IMDb TV—and as new FAST services launch, this trend will only accelerate. Meanwhile, marketers are betting big on FAST, estimated to spend over $25 billionOpens a new window on advertising-supported video by 2025.

For content owners, this means there is now a golden opportunity to monetize premium content through ad-only streaming models. And advertisers would do well to follow suit, shifting a greater portion of their spend toward FAST models to deploy targeted ad campaigns based on consumer data and viewing preferences.

Ultimately, FAST TV is here to stay, offering consumers both the price point and viewing experience they crave. Linear OTT channels, available through ad-supported platforms, make it easier for viewers to access content and minimize the attrition caused by an overabundance of choices. This not only makes getting discovered much easier for the content owner – and creates more effective marketing opportunities for the advertiser – but it also builds much stronger engagement and loyalty among consumers. And that’s a win for everyone.

Have you ever felt subscription fatigue? Do you think FAST would change that? Tell us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to know!