Advanced Television

Study: Americans struggle with content discovery

September 14, 2022

Research conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of streaming media platform Plex, reveals that the average American has 13 TV shows and 16 movies on their watchlist to get through — averaging a total of 104 hours — which is enough content to last two whole flights around the world.

The study of 2,000 Americans found that 68 per cent keep a TV show and movie watchlist so lengthy, it’s “nearly impossible” for them to get through. While over seven in 10 (73 per cent) keep a list of shows and films they plan to watch, more than half (58 per cent) said they struggle to keep track of everything they want to watch.

The research also revealed:

  • Discovering content to watch is a challenge: Half of Americans said it’s a struggle to find what streaming platform content is available on, averaging 30 minutes of flipping through four different streaming services before deciding on what to watch.
  • Getting through a watchlist is not easy: Of the 42 per cent of Americans who haven’t made it through their watchlist, the biggest obstacles preventing them from completing the list are that it’s consistently getting longer (43 per cent), it’s already too long (29 per cent) or it’s overwhelming (25 per cent).
  • New, buzzy TV serials are the most popular for watchlists: Stranger Things topped Americans’ watchlists as the TV show they’d most like to watch, followed by Game of Thrones (21 per cent) The Walking Dead (21 per cent), Breaking Bad (19 per cent) and Squid Game (19 per cent).
  • Preferred TV show genre varies by generation: While Millennials are nearly twice (45 per cent) as likely than Gen Z (26 per cent) to have true crime shows on their watchlists, sitcoms are most popular on Zoomers’ lists (38 per cent). Meanwhile, Gen X and baby boomers both prefer full-hour procedurals (50 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively).
  • Men and women prefer different watchlist formats: Nearly half (46 per cent) of women simply try to remember what they want to watch, and the same number of men (46 per cent) keep a note on their phones for their watchlists.

“With new content constantly being released to streaming services, it can be difficult to keep track of it all,” notes Jason Williams, Product Director at Plex. “With Plex Universal Watchlist, consumers can easily stay updated on their favourite movies and shows across all major streaming platforms, even as their favourite content moves or becomes available on other services. Our goal is to make the streaming experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible.”

Earlier in 2022, Plex launched with two new features, Discover and Universal Watchlist, to alleviate many of the pain points that plague consumers subscribed to multiple streaming services by making it easy to stay on top of favourite movies and shows.

Simply having a list of shows and movies does not cut it for most Americans with 58 per cent reporting that maintaining an organised watchlist is a ‘must’ to ensure they can cross off content from their list. While two-thirds (65 per cent) prefer watching content from their list before defaulting to something else, over half (56 per cent) turn off the TV and find something else to do if they can’t find something to watch, and 55 per cent opt for re-watching a show or movie.

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