Is Increasing SVOD Adoption Due to the Longevity of VCRs?

Over one third of American households still own a VCR; can you believe it?

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According to GfK’s report, Over-the-Top TV 2016: A Complete Video Landscape, 35% of households still own a videocassette player. The report doesn’t provide additional detail on whether this device is being used as a dust collector or is actually being used for its intended purpose, but the distribution practices of the major Hollywood studios provide a clue. No major title has been released on the format since 2006, so it seems more likely to be the former than the latter. Those who DO own and use VCRs still are surely in the older demographics who bought into the home entertainment revolution in the 90s, when the format was the height of its popularity. In the 20-30 years since then, they’ve just kept on keeping on with their box sets of classic television, I guess.

But analog tapes don’t last forever — actually their viable lifespan is about 25 years (though picture quality certainly begins degrading long before that). All those VHS affcionados might be compelled to upgrade; how might these analog households be adapting to the new digital future wherein streaming is king and OTT is the currency of the realm?

A recent  MoffettNathanson Research report provide a hint at once possibility, noting that 45 to 54 year-olds are the fastest growing demographic of users on Netflix with subscriptions from that age group growing by 20% since 2014. Those analog households are trading up and going digital! VOD platforms today deliver more and better classic television than ever before (shows like the classic That Girl  from Stadium Media #DigitalPartner).

While it’s amusing to think that new streaming households are joining the digital future to revel in the adventures of Marlo Thomas, it’s possible that another home entertainment technology is aiding this surge of mature viewers to streaming media and OTT. My bet is on the increasing market penetration of Smart TVs.

Smart TVs on sale today come preloaded with one or several streaming service apps preloaded, services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu and others. One manufacturer has even licensed the Roku OS to provide “the best streaming experience in the industry“, further integrating streaming media into the livingroom experience. Registration and authentication is still required, but with such key brand placement before viewers, it’s not hard to see how older demographics, now buyers of advanced TVs, are opting into the convenience and selection of streaming services. The data seems to support my theory. In 2014, 41% of consumers watched Netflix on a PC oo mobile device. Today, 47% watch it through a smart TV.

VCRs were once the leading edge of their own home entertainment revolution, but the advances of technology and the weaknesses of yesterday’s analog technology, may be giving the transition an extra push. Their loyal acolytes may now be contributing to the next great home entertainment revolution, the shift to streaming video.