Nielsen: One-Fifth of TV Usage is Streaming

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NEW YORK—There are more streaming options than ever, and American viewers seem to be responding to them as evidence in the latest edition of Nielsen’s Total Audience Report.

In OTT-capable homes, viewers are spending 19% of their TV time watching streaming content—ad-supported or on paid subscription models. In the amount of time that streaming has been around, Nielsen believes that to be a solid amount.

The report also identified that 60% of Americans subscribe to more than one paid video streaming service, while 93% say that they plan to either keep or increase their existing streaming services.

(Image credit: Nielsen)

The most popular services, per Nielsen’s findings, are Netflix, making up 31% of video streaming distribution, YouTube (21%), Hulu (12%) and Amazon (8%); others made up the remaining 28%.

Nielsen’s survey of consumers also detailed what attributes are most important to consumers in judging a streaming service. For 84% of consumers it was the cost, followed by ease of use (81%), variety/availability of content (79%) and streaming/playback quality (77%). When it asked consumers what was a reason they would cancel a paid service, 42% said when the service didn’t justify the cost.

As for why consumers believe they need more than one streaming service, the old adage of content being king remained true. The top four answers were content based: “to expand the content that I have available;” “to watch programs I used to watch on TV and can’t find anywhere else;” “to watch a particular program that I have heard about;” and “to access original content exclusive to streaming platforms.”

“Content has always been king, but with the growth of streaming, content creators and rights owners are effectively given more power,” Nielsen wrote. “Platforms must be able to maintain the programs that audiences want while offering compelling new ones to keep them interested. Wherever good content goes, subscribers will follow. When that content runs out, don’t be surprised when some of the subscribers do too: 20% of consumers said they canceled a service after watching all the content that they were interested in.”

The full Nielsen Total Audience Report is available on the Nielsen website.