Nielsen study shows most streaming viewers spend $30 or less

A new Nielsen report suggests that monthly streaming budgets remain well below the ever-increasing rates at legacy cable and satellite TV services — even after multiple rate hikes among streaming-video services and the ongoing dispersal of some high-value titles to new services with their own fees.

An article posted Monday by the New York firm highlighted expenditure trends briefly mentioned in Nielsen’s first State of Play report last week.

The biggest share of respondents to Nielsen’s streaming media consumer survey — 21% — reported spending the rough equivalent of a burger and a beer or two on streaming video services: $20 to $29.99.

After that, 17% put their monthly spend in the $30 to $49.99 range, while 16% attested to an expenditure of just $10 to $14.99 a month. The $15 to $19.99 and $50-and-up brackets each drew another 15% of respondents; 11% said they’d restrained themselves to $5 to $9.99; and 3% reported getting away with spending less than $4.99 a month.

Put another way, almost two-thirds of survey participants spent at most $30 on streaming video services.

By way of comparison, the most recent report from the Federal Communications Commission on cable-industry pricing — it dates to 2018, but the FCC is now working on a new survey — found an average price for expanded-basic cable TV of $71.37. That number did not include equipment-rental costs, which remain common in cable and unheard-of in streaming.

Only 2% of Nielsen survey respondents said they used streaming services without subscribing to them. That’s a far lower rate of account sharing than seen in such recent reports as the Leichtman Research Group survey that found 15% of Netflix viewers admitting to watching on somebody else’s money — and one that may draw some raised eyebrows from video firms already challenging the reliability of Nielsen’s traditional ratings.

Nielsen’s State of Play report said these figures come from the streaming-media consumer survey it ran online, only in English, from Dec. 14, 2021 to Jan. 6, 2022, “based on a representative sample of 1,394 U.S. adults 18+ who currently use streaming video and/or audio services.”