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US ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) viewers to surpass 50% of digital video viewers

Free premium video streaming platforms are quickly gaining traction 


September 28, 2021 (New York, NY) – The latest eMarketer forecast from Insider Intelligence has broken out ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) viewers for the first time. AVOD viewers are defined as individuals of any age who, at least once per month, watch videos on an ad-supported platform that primarily offers professionally produced content, via app or website. Examples of these platforms include Hulu, Peacock, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and Tubi but exclude services reliant on user-generated content, such as Twitch, YouTube, and social media platforms. 


In 2021, the number of AVOD viewers in the US will rise by 17.6% year over year to nearly 128 million. Although that growth rate is high, it is a sharp deceleration compared with previous years, down from 30.3% in 2020 and 38.6% in 2019. At the time, many streaming video apps were entering the market, and AVOD services were able to cut through consumers’ subscription fatigue by offering a cheaper—if not completely free—alternative. This year will be the first time that AVOD viewers make up more than 50% of all digital video viewers in the US.  




“People had more time to try free ad-supported services last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but with life returning to normal, people won’t be able to watch as much video content as before,” said Nazmul Islam, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Another problem is that these services don’t have as much original content as their subscription OTT counterparts. As free AVOD platforms continue to be profitable, however, we can expect to see their parent companies add more content to them in the form of original shows, news, or sports.” 


AVOD viewership is anticipated to grow for the next few years, driven by newer platforms including Paramount+ and Peacock, as well as by free services such as Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and Tubi. Free premium video streaming platforms started out small, capturing only a total of 30.6 million monthly viewers in 2018, before expanding their audience by almost 89% in 2019. By the end of this year, these free platforms are expected to have 89.2 million monthly viewers in the US.  


Insider Intelligence forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms, and public companies, as well as from interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers, and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends, and economic changes. 


About Insider Intelligence 

Formed in 2020 from the union of eMarketer and Business Insider Intelligence (BII), Insider Intelligence aims to be the world’s leading research service focused on digital transformation. Insider Intelligence enables thousands of global industry leaders to understand the critical trends and developments affecting their businesses in the short and long term. Each year, Insider Intelligence produces nearly 300 reports, 7,000 charts, 1,500 newsletters, and 200 forecasts across the Advertising & Marketing, Consumer Demographics, Social Media, Video, Mobile, Ecommerce & Retail, Telecom & Technology, Financial Services, and Digital Health. Insider Intelligence is owned by European media giant Axel Springer SE. 


Posted on September 28, 2021.