Viewers’ interest in being able to download videos, as well as stream them, is strong, though awareness of a downloading feature in streaming services remains modest, according to new research from software provider Penthera. In a poll of U.S consumers 18-44 years-old, Penthera found that one third or more of subscribers to major SVOD services like Netflix weren’t aware downloading was available (Netflix officially launched downloading for select titles last November after consistently saying it didn’t believe it was a valuable feature). Dan Taitz, Penthera’s COO told me in a briefing that the relatively low awareness reflects downloading still being in an “early adopter phase.”
However, for the 1,000+ respondents that were aware of downloading, usage is growing and, in some cases already equal to streaming. For example, 15% of these respondents said that they download at least once per month, the same amount as those who stream. Streaming on a daily basis is done by 25% of respondents who are aware of downloading (vs. 8% for downloading), while streaming is done by 18% on a weekly basis, compared to 8% for downloading.
24% of these respondents said they don’t stream and 43% said they don’t download. As Dan pointed out, lots of people who stream video do so only or primarily on desktops and connected TVs, so downloading to mobile devices isn’t relevant for them.
Another sign of progress for downloading is that over one-third of those familiar with downloading said that the availability of a downloading feature would make them more likely to subscribe and/or less likely to cancel a streaming service.
Long-time VideoNuze readers know I’ve been a big proponent of video downloading as a valuable add-on feature for streaming services. There are just too many times when connectivity is either spotty or non-existent (e.g. planes, trains, automobiles) so having video play directly from the device is essential to a high-quality experience. Expensive mobile data plans also inhibit long-form streaming.
Obviously one needs to be cautious about vendor-sponsored research like Penthera’s, but I believe at least directionally it’s correct. Over the last several years we’ve seen many of the SVOD services, TV networks and pay-TV operators introduce downloading features, all a recognition that downloading can add business value to their services. As these services ramp up promotion of downloading and usage increases so too will its value.