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Poll: Most Americans don’t want streaming services regulated like cable

An Apple TV remote control. (Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash)
An Apple TV remote control. (Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash)

The majority of Americans on both sides of the political aisle are opposed to imposing cable-style retransmission consent rules and similar regulations on streaming cable-like services, according to the findings of a new poll released this week.

The poll, conducted by the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition in partnership with Change Research, found 57 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans who participated in the survey said they were somewhat or strongly opposed to the idea that streaming services like DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV would be required to negotiate with broadcasters directly for the rights to their channels, just as cable and satellite companies are required to do today.

The survey comes amid a push by broadcasters that is attempting to convince the Federal Communications Commission to revisit proposed retransmission consent regulations for streaming cable-like television services.

Last year, broadcasters banded together to form the Coalition for Local News, which aims to convince federal lawmakers and regulators that the carriage rules that govern cable and satellite companies should also be forced upon streaming services. The group says it’s losing out on crucial retransmission consent revenue that could be used to invest in local news and other content through the current structure, where streaming services negotiate carriage of local channels with the networks themselves.

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The Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition was formed by major streaming services and some broadcast networks as a response to the Coalition for Local News. The group argues that imposing cable-like retransmission consent rules would lead to higher programming fees charged by broadcasters, which would cause streaming prices to go up.

On Tuesday, the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition said its survey found 64 percent of American consumers prefer watching live TV over streaming services, compared to just 23 percent who preferred a cable or satellite TV product.

The majority of TV viewers said they did not experience any difficulty in finding ways to consume local content online, with 38 percent of respondents saying they get their local news from social media on a daily basis, while 29 percent read local news on another website. That compares to 11 percent of respondents who watch local news with an antenna on a daily basis and 30 percent who watch via cable or satellite.

“The data shows that streaming services are the preferred viewing method for many Americans,” Bruce Harlow, a spokesperson for the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Viewers want the ability to choose their content and control costs, and oppose proposals for the FCC to regulate streaming like cable, which jeopardizes those priorities.”

The poll was based on responses from more than 1,570 registered voters across the country who were surveyed between January 10 and January 15. The survey was conducted in English.

The Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition includes participation from the Walt Disney Company’s ABC and Hulu, Paramount Global, Fox Corporation, Fubo, Roku, YouTube TV, Warner Bros Discovery, Comcast’s NBC Universal and Telemundo, Univision and Vidgo.


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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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