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Streaming gaining on traditional TV viewership

June 19, 2014

A Harris Poll looking at the ways Americans most often watch television programmes has found the increasing use of streaming as a viewership option. While over three-quarters of US adults (77 per cent) say they regularly watch television shows via either cable (55 per cent) or satellite TV (23 per cent), over four in ten say they regularly watch via streaming (43 per cent) including two-thirds of Millennials (67 per cent).

“What’s more, streaming seems to be slowly gaining ground on more traditional modes when it comes to the ways Americans most often watch television programmes (though it’s in no danger of overtaking them in the immediate future),” says Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content.

“At 85 per cent, the percentage of Americans saying they most often watch TV on, well, a TV (live feed, recorded or on demand), sans streaming, is down from 89 per cent in 2012. Streaming, meanwhile, is up from 20 per cent in 2012 to 23 per cent today. This preferential shift is strongest when looking at Millennials, among whom non-streaming TV preference has declined from 77 per cent to 68 per cent while streaming preference has grown from 41 per cent to 47 per cent,” he advises.

Nearly a quarter of Americans (23 per cent) say they’re watching more online/streaming television programming now than they were a year ago, while 37 per cent say their online/streaming viewership is no different than last year and 7 per cent say they’re watching less this way now than a year ago. Looking ahead, nearly two in ten (18 per cent) expect to be watching more online/streaming television programming a year from now while 4 per cent expect to be watching less and half (50 per cent) don’t anticipate a change.

Gotta see it

Both premium cable networks and streaming services are hard at work trying to make themselves indispensable through exclusive content, but how much is this impacting consumer behaviours? Nearly four in ten Americans (38 per cent) say they’ve subscribed to premium cable channels in order to watch specific shows, while one-quarter (24 per cent) have subscribed to one or more streaming services for the same reason.

Looking specifically at streaming TV’s likely ‘core’ constituents, half (50 per cent) of those who list streaming among their top go-tos for television shows say they’ve subscribed to streaming services for access to specific shows. Additionally…

  • Six in ten streaming-dominant viewers would like to be able to watch TV pilots and vote on what gets ordered as a full series (60 per cent).
  • Four in ten (40 per cent) would be willing to pay extra for a service that allowed them to stream current shows ad-free.
  • 37 per cent would pay more for a streaming service that allowed them temporarily to download TV episodes, for when they’re away from an Internet connection.

How are streamers… well… streaming?

Among those who regularly watch television shows via streaming, three-quarters (74 per cent) use a computer to do so, while just over half (55 per cent) use a television (whether via a set-top box, a game system or a television with integrated online capabilities).

  • Nearly four in ten (37 per cent) watch on tablets, including more than six in ten tablet owners (63 per cent).
  • Three in ten (30 per cent) watch on smartphones, including just over four in ten smartphone owners (42 per cent).

Attention deficit

Distracted viewing continues to be the norm, with nearly eight in ten US adults (78 per cent) saying they’re ever doing other things while watching TV. More specifically, more than six in ten (63 per cent) engage in online activities; over one-third (35 per cent) text, three in ten (30 per cent) read a book, magazine or newspaper, and 7 per cent read a book on an electronic reading device. 22 per cent say they do other things.

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, OTT, OTT, Research