$20 Is the Limit Most Americans Will Pay for Streaming Services, Survey Says

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a commission. Learn more

The majority of Americans are not willing to pay more than $20 per month for streaming TV services, according to a new survey. Over the last year, there’s been an influx in the number of streaming services available with each one looking to offer a direct-to-consumer option. The survey suggests, there might not be enough room for all of them.


A new streaming service launching today mainly has the choice of either opting for a paid-for or free service. Neither are technically free as someone is paying for the content, the difference is simply whether the consumer is paying in money or eyes on ads. Services that opt for the direct approach typically launch with a monthly fee attached. In contrast, the others look to offset the cost, sometimes entirely, through the use of an ad-supported strategy. A new survey by The Trade Desk and YouGov suggests companies are better off taking the ad-supported approach.

The online survey was conducted in November 2019 with the sample consisting of 2,613 adults in the U.S. According to the findings, 59 percent of Americans are not willing to pay more than $20 per month for streaming TV services. That’s the price in total for all services each month. As to be expected, the percentage gets higher when the price increases with the survey finding as many as 75 percent of Americans are not willing to pay more than $30 per month in total.


Surveys often don’t tell the whole story

Besides the fact this survey included a little over 2,600 people and is being used to represent the entire country, surveys are often only as good as the methodology. Furthermore, different surveys often contradict each other.

In a completely different survey by the same market research and data analytics firm, YouGov found that 60 percent of Americans were not willing to pay more than $20 in total for streaming subscriptions each month. While on the surface that seems to tally well with the current 59 percent finding, it’s worth noting 23 percent of the previous sample were not willing to pay anything at all for streaming services. What’s more, this second survey was not just factoring in subscription TV services, but also music subscriptions as well.

How much streaming services
Source: YouGov

Almost one quarter of those sampled stating $0 is the maximum they are willing to pay each month for all entertainment subscriptions highlights the issues with drawing firm conclusions on relatively small sample sizes, as well as the reality that samples often find varying results or obscure important details. For reference, this second survey was not only conducted by the same research company, but also only weeks before the latest one.

What is clear is that price has become an issue in general. With live TV streaming services routinely increasing their monthly prices, and more streaming services hitting the market each year, companies are likely going to be battling it out for your subscription dollars. Where the monthly dollar limit lies is likely to come down to the individual and also how invested someone already is in streaming. For example, the YouGov survey from October also found that while only 38 percent of U.S. adults are likely to sign up to a streaming service to watch a specific show, the percentage increased to 56 for those who were classified as “cord cutters.”


In survey terms, that’s a swing from the minority to the majority.

Source: The Trade Desk

John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been editing and writing about technology and streaming for online publications since 2014, and believes the best streaming approach is to rotate between services as needed.

John's preferred live TV streaming service right now is YouTube TV although he does tend to switch live TV services multiple times each year to keep up to date with their changes. Outside of live TV, John also actively streams HBO Max (for the shows), Peacock (for Premier League), and Paramount Plus (for Champion's League). However, John is also currently subscribed to Apple TV+, Discovery+, Hulu, Starz, Showtime, and Shudder.

Contact John via email at or say hi on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Streaming can be frustrating but please be respectful and avoid personal information. All comments are moderated according to our comment policy.