Research: TV, movies take 30% of US entertainment time

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Reported time spent watching TV shows and movies in the US in the first half of 2021 rose 4 per cent over last year, as screen-entertainment spending declined by 1 per cent. Viewing hours from January through June 2021 made up nearly one-third (30 per cent) of the time US consumers spent entertaining themselves, according to The NPD Group.

However, there were large differences between the first quarter and the second, since the first quarter compares against viewing before the rise in Covid-19 cases led to widespread shelter-at-home orders, while the second quarter compares against the rising viewership levels achieved as people across the US stayed home.

Entertainment consumption trends that will continue to affect viewership levels the rest of this year are:

  • Watching movies in movie theatres remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels in the first half of the year. In part, entertainment time was diverted to in-home viewing through premium release windows and the proliferation of Netflix and other SVoD services. However, the reduced number of theatrical movie releases limits the flow of new release movies into the ecosystem so there’s less content available through other video distribution channels.
  • SVoD engagement has pulled back, as consumers spend more of their time on going out to eat, travel, and other experiential activities. Time spent on experiences has grown 104 per cent this year compared to last year.
  • Free streaming video is a growing supplement to viewers’ SVoD services.
  • The digital transaction business experienced gains in 2020 and is now positioned to retain viewer engagement. These gains are happening, in part, because of shorter exhibition windows and the release of premium on-demand offerings.
  • Traditional content viewing on cable, satellite TV, and packaged media continues to migrate to streaming.

“Looking ahead, the mandate for the industry is to retain viewer engagement and win the battle for share of viewers’ time,” said John Buffone, connected intelligence and media entertainment industry analyst for NPD. “As consumers migrate back to experiential activities, the available time to engage in watching TV shows and movies will naturally decline.”


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