Despite steady increases in the amount of programming and the number of distribution outlets thanks to the streaming boom, U.S. entertainment consumers appear to be ready to watch more and pay more for the privilege.
That’s one of the main takeaways from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report for February, which has just been released. While the measurement firm has issued dozens of these reports over the past decade, this one is labeled the “special streaming wars edition” because it includes the first data since Apple and Disney entered the streaming arena last November.
The sheer volume of what’s available keeps climbing. Through last December, the report found, there were 646,152 unique program titles to choose from across linear and streaming services, a nearly 10% increase over what was available in all of 2018. About 9% of titles appeared exclusively on an SVOD service — not a surprise given the arms race currently underway, with Apple TV+ and Disney+ having launched last November. HBO Max and Peacock are due this spring.
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Nielsen surveyed about 1,000 U.S. viewers for one week in November and found that 19% of all activity on TV sets in the fourth quarter was streaming. Netflx was the leading streaming service in terms of market share in the quarter, by a wide margin, with 31% of total viewing, compared with 20% for YouTube, 13% for Hulu and 8% for Amazon Prime Video.
The appetite for content continues to increase, the report argues, noting that 93% of video subscribers plan to either maintain their current level or increase the number of streaming services they get. Already, nearly half (47%) of consumers aged 18 to 34 have three or more services. The remarkably fast start of Disney+, which has attracted 28.6 million subscribers less than three months after its launch, attests to the hunger. Apple has not yet disclosed any viewership information for Apple TV+, but CEO Tim Cook said last month it is off to a “rousing start.”
“I don’t see a plateau,” Peter Katsingris, Nielsen’s SVP of Audience Insights, told Deadline. “Streaming is definitely powering a rise we’re seeing in consumer time. Will there be pressure applied to other platforms? Time will tell. … Streaming is part of our lives now.”
Overall video viewing by adults is essentially flat in the third quarter of 2019 compared with the third quarter of 2018, but live and time-shifted TV continues to lose ground to connected and mobile device viewing. Average media consumption across all platforms by adults 18 and older has reached an eye-popping 11 hours 54 minutes a day. A year ago, it was 10 hours 30 minutes. Smartphones are one key driver of the increase, adding an extra hour and 27 minutes a day.
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