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Too Many TV Apps are Here to Stay. The Too Many App Problem Doesn't Have to Be

A new report from TVision sheds light on consumer trends when it comes to TV app usage. While the numbers are not surprising, that’s not to say that they aren’t still painting an important picture. 

Here are the top-line figures:

Everybody who hasn’t been living under a rock knows that there are more TV apps than ever. Over 7 apps per household, while very much believable, is still a shocking number. What else besides watching shows and movies requires that many different apps (and with them: accounts, usernames and passwords, payment information, and more)?  

Similarly, nearly 30% of households manage to juggle over 10 streaming apps.

The numbers point to development that’s considerably more unexpected than the numbers themselves: what’s long been considered a widespread headache for consumers is becoming normalized. Whether consumers like it or not, getting TV from a patchwork of 7+ apps is now the standard procedure. 

App Audience Overlap

Digging deeper into TVision’s data, one revelation jumps out: high levels of overlap between major streaming apps. Admittedly, YouTube is a bit of an outlier in the data. Everybody uses YouTube, but a user logging on to watch short-form and user-generated content via YouTube is a completely different consumer behavior versus booting up Netflix or Disney+ to watch a movie or show.

But the high overlap holds true between a wide variety of apps. The takeaway: these apps are not substitutable the way Coca Cola and Pepsi are, which makes growing market share or measuring one app against its competition a much more complicated affair.

As FreeCast CEO William Mobley once put it: “If you’re pushing consumers in a direction of only you, you’re pushing them away.”  

The Sunk Costs Problem

With so much overlap, the natural question is, why not have one app instead of two? Particularly in the case of Disney+ and Hulu, both of which are owned and operated by Disney.

The problem now is that so much time, effort, and investment has gone into each of these new apps, the genie can’t go back in the bottle. Every network has now invested in the infrastructure to deliver direct-to-consumer OTT content, they’ve all developed apps across a variety of platforms, updated their licensing and contracting practices to accommodate for their first-party streaming plans, and paid massive amounts to market these new offerings and acquire customers. 

While the TV industry has begun to discuss aggregation tech more seriously in recent years, this remains the challenge. Any solution that requires the abandonment of these massive investments is a non-starter. 

That’s also what makes FreeCast’s approach unique. The company has a long record predicting this very situation, and has focused on building solutions that are themselves over-the-top of current over-the-top services.

This allows FreeCast to offer monetization solutions that leverage as much of the existing infrastructure as possible, avoiding another reinvention of the wheel or requiring the networks’ current investments to go to waste.  

Looking for the Advantages in AVOD and FAST

TVision’s report also confirmed what has been a trend for a while now: rapid growth among AVOD and FAST services. This is critical to understanding the current state of the TV industry.

Many would assume that costs are the driver of this trend, particularly with the current economic conditions of high inflation and recession fears. Certainly subscription fatigue is a part of the problem, but it’s likely not a simple matter of consumers embracing the options with no out-of-pocket spend attached to them.

What ad-supported video apps have in common that may explain their growth is that they tend to be simpler to access and navigate. The lack of a paywall or need to log in to an account means that you can often jump right into a website or app and begin watching. Many of them are designed to run right in the web browser as well, meaning they’re easy to access from a variety of device types and platforms without the need for an app.

One of FreeCast’s aims with its integration of paid content into a base free service is to leverage these advantages, both delivering eyeballs to ad-supported content and upselling consumers into subscription and pay-per-view products. 

Even the existing subscription-based streaming services may be able to grow by tapping in to the growing AVOD and FAST space. FreeCast is one tool at their disposal to do so.