IAS Streaming Wars Report: Why 2021 will be massive for streaming

OTT streaming services and connected TV (CTV) have boomed in recent years, disrupting both the entertainment and sport industries more heavily than most. 

Recently, IAS published their Streaming Wars Report looking at the state of streaming and highlighting some possible trends over the next 12 months.

The report collates data from hundreds of UK consumers and features many questions around both the adoption of streaming services and the appetite for multiple streaming services. 

As leaders in both the sport and entertainment industries, working with global brands like the BBC and SailGP, we keep an eye out for the latest trends in both sectors. 

After a little analysis, we distilled the key findings of the IAS Streaming Wars Report to help guide us, and our clients, through 2021 and beyond.

The UK market has fully adopted streaming

The report opens with a series of CTV stats that highlight the presence of CTV within the British consumer base:


It’s clear to see from these results that the market has fully adopted CTV, with 90% of UK residents owning a CTV, and many residents owning other OTT platforms like game consoles and streaming devices. 

As we went through these results, we found a few more interesting trends:

  • The potential of mobile – 58% of those polled claimed to use their mobile for streaming with 26% using their phones as their primary streaming device. On top of that, 50% of OTT viewers use their mobile while they’re streaming on another device. This highlights the need for mobile streaming platforms and second-screen experiences within the market.
  • Netflix is still the king – With 78% of the people polled owning Netflix, it’s easy to see why it’s the market leader. However, Amazon Prime and Disney+ both look set to challenge, with a large percentage of users – although neither had anywhere near as many users that preferred their service over Netflix. Plus, as only 10% of those polled had no streaming service, we can assume that 90% of those polled had subscribed to one or more services. 
  • Tablets and desktop – While not as strong as CTV and mobile, both tablets and desktops were used by more than a third of those polled. This is worth noting – it shows an opportunity to connect to a large portion of the market through web apps.

The rise of free streaming services

The report went on to explore the increased usage of free streaming services, often supported by advertising. This aspect of the report went into more detail, breaking down the reasons behind the growth in free streaming:


These stats prove the viability of the free streaming service model; 83% of the users polled were open to viewing ads in return for free content – that’s more than owned Netflix.

The more extensive breakdowns of why those polled used free streaming services and their thoughts on adverts are pretty much as you’d expect – ‘less cost’ and ‘as few as possible’ respectively.

But it also highlights the need to test and balance free streaming services to hit the sweet spot, where the benefit of free content isn’t outweighed by the number of adverts.

2021 Outlook: Where do we go from here?

After analysing the report, we asked a couple of our sport and entertainment mobile experts to weigh in with their thoughts.

“For me personally, I've been transitioning to getting all my TV, film and sport content from a mix of paid and ad-supported streaming services over the last few years. This report suggests that this is a growing trend amongst consumers – and represents an opportunity for service providers, with the right content and pricing model, to break away ahead of the pack.”
Matt Graham
Senior Consultant
"Throughout the current pandemic we have seen a dramatic increase in subscribers to a number of streaming platforms like Disney+ - Consumers have changed their viewing habits and with the likes of BT Sport offering a more personalised production to app users we can only see the numbers increasing. Our viewing habits are changing constantly and people are consuming TV more on mobile than ever."
David Stevenson
Business Development Manager

Overall, our key takeaways with this report:

  • The UK market has access to a variety of CTV and streaming devices, offering a viable platform for entertainment services.
  • There’s an opportunity in OTT services serving multiple devices, including mobiles, tablets and desktops.
  • The free streaming service model is viable and has the potential to access much larger audiences. 

If you’re interested in how the Apadmi could help the entertainment and sport industry in 2021 and beyond, please get in touch.

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