Streaming Viewing Is Up But Time Spent on Each Streamer Is Down

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BARCELONA—A new NPAW report on the state of video streaming found that heightened competition between individual streaming services is fragmenting audiences and reducing the average time that users spend on individual streaming services. 

NPAW’s new Video Streaming Industry Report H1 2022 found that even though the total playtime and number of plays continued to increase across video-on-demand (VOD) and online Linear TV, a deeper look at the data reveals an accelerating downward trend for user engagement on the individual service level., the researchers said. 

After a 9% decrease in 2021 vs. 2020, VOD services saw 11% lower daily playtime per user and service in the first half of 2022 compared with the same period the previous year. Meanwhile, Linear TV services experienced a 13% decline in daily playtime per user after this peaked in 2021.

One notable exception was sports. 

In the first six months of a year packed with live sporting events, daily consumption per user and service for sports content saw a 12% year-over-year increase for VOD and a 13% surge for Linear TV. Only for Linear TV, the average daily consumption of sports content per user and service was almost double that of generic linear content, confirming sports content is an engagement powerhouse.

“Attracting and retaining users is becoming increasingly challenging as competition between services and global economic uncertainty grow,”  said Ferran G. Vilaró, CEO and co-founder of NPAW. “The rise of advertising-based models and the promise of sports streaming both have the potential to deliver further industry growth, but long-term success depends on a more fundamental formula: superior content + a superior experience.”

Other key takeaways include: 

  • Daily VOD consumption per user and service took a further 11% dip in the first half of 2022, while users watched slightly fewer, yet longer titles per day
  • After peaking in H1 2021, daily Linear TV consumption per user and service saw an 18% decline year-over-year, while users watched linear content in shorter sessions
  • Average Bitrate for VOD approached a peak as providers increased Average Join Time to keep buffering at bay, resulting in a rise in exit before video start (EBVS) after it decreased last year
  • Linear TV quality got a boost after a period of stabilization, with Average Join Time increasing to support accelerated bitrate improvements while reducing buffering levels
  • Daily sports streaming consumption grew for both VOD (12%) and Linear TV (13%), with the Average Daily Playtime for linear sports almost doubling the average for generic linear content
  • Users spent the most viewing time on big screens, while smartphones remained the device of choice for shorter, more frequent viewing sessions

The NPAW’s Video Streaming Industry Report H1 2022 can be downloaded here

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.