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These are among the findings of a new GfK report that defines the actual viewing habits and preferences of subscribers to Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Hulu Plus. Over 500 US subscribers to one or more of these services agreed to recount their use of streaming video once a day for seven days.
About 81 per cent of some 2,300 viewing segments mentioned were for TV shows, compared to 19 per cent for movies. While Hulu Plus viewers watched TV shows almost exclusively (96 per cent of their segments), Netflix users preferred TV shows by a three-to-one margin (77 per cent versus 23 per cent), and Amazon Prime by about four to one (79 per cent vs. 21 per cent).
In terms of total viewing time, TV dominated movies by a factor of two to one. Even though the average time for each movie was much greater, this was more than offset by the much higher number of programmes viewed.
Among the specific TV shows cited as having been watched, there was very little overlap; only a few received more than a handful of mentions, and four of the top seven programmes have been cancelled for at least three years. The combined Star Trek TV series catalogue got the most mentions, at 4 per cent of all segments; after that, only Breaking Bad and Mad Men rose to the 3 per cent level – with all other programmes at 2 per cent or below.
The 10 most-watched movies were mainly drawn from the past one to two years, but featured a quirky array of titles – from Mission: Impossible movies to A Dark Truth to Thor. Of the top 10, only The Hunger Games (at 7 per cent) broke the 2 per cent level.
“Though subscription streaming is now recognised as a major factor in video use, there has been scant information about content watched, circumstances of viewing, and other key variables,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of GfK’s Media and Entertainment team. “We see that, contrary to broadcast TV’s ‘mass’ audience model, streaming services generate episodic, niche viewing — more broad and unpredictable than even the 200 channels on your cable TV menu. These services provide the control and multiplicity of choice that consumers crave, and the result is very individual behaviour.”
The new report also shows that
– About half of the streaming segments were watched on a TV set connected to the Internet – through a game console, Blu-ray player, streaming box, or a built-in connection.
– Streaming services do not seem to be eroding cable or satellite TV subscriptions – but they may be eating into viewing time and thus ad exposure.
– Almost three quarters of streaming viewing segments are accompanied by some other activity – eating, talking, or using another digital device.