Report: Streaming, Broadband Push TV Viewing to Five Hours Per Day
It’s no surprise that streaming is currently the most popular TV option amongst consumers, but according to a new report from Nielsen, it might not have been that way if it weren’t for the widespread adoption of connected TVs and broadband internet that was expedited by the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of January 2023, 35.5% of households in the United States watched their television programming exclusively through a broadband internet connection. Not only was that a modest increase since the third quarter of 2022, but it marked a more than 20-point increase since September 2020. While broadband growth in the U.S. had been growing steadily until 2020, the massive jump from Q3 2020 (15.5%) to Q3 2021 (25.5%) was the biggest on record. In the year and a half since, the broadband market has picked up another 10% domestically, helping fuel the rapid explosion of the streaming industry.
Audiences had access to more than 821,000 unique titles across streaming platforms as of December 2022, a considerably larger amount than the 231,000 titles offered on conventional linear networks. The glut of content has continued to push Americans’ viewing habits to reach new records, and it is primarily streaming titles that are driving the increase. Across all homes in which residents are over 18 years old, television viewing in total has remained fairly consistent, actually dropping from just over 300 minutes per day in September 2019 to just under that total in September 2022.
However, unlike broadcast and cable, which have seen steady declines during that time period, the usage rate of streaming has improved dramatically. In the third quarter of 2019, only 58 minutes were spent per day watching streaming titles, but by last fall, that total had nearly doubled to one hour and 46 minutes per day.
When you adjust the numbers to only account for homes that at least subscribe to cable or satellite, broadcast and cable viewing has remained essentially flat since 2019, while streaming has continued to see exponential growth.
In September 2019, cable-plus U.S. households spent an average of 40 minutes streaming programming on a daily basis, but that has increased nearly 58% to sit at 69 minutes in September 2022. The increase in streaming time has pushed the overall daily household viewing minutes total from 270 in 2019 to 300 last fall.
In order to engage audiences, new content options and distribution platforms will continue to appear. Recent trends have shown that having the right content certainly draws a crowd. Although audiences are gravitating more and more to streaming, it is evident that today’s media diets span the conventional and emerging outlets, and will do so as long as individual channels and content producers continue to give audiences choices that they find appealing.