We used to complain that there were too many streaming services fighting for our money. Now we can not binge enough.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has changed entertainment behavior. Instead of going to a movie, concert or sporting event, we are more likely to stream something at home. As a result, almost all Americans subscribe to a streaming service, and most of us pay for maybe five or more.
The appetite for streaming has grown globally. Worldwide viewing time increased by 44% in the last three months of 2020, compared to the same period a year ago, according to Conviva, a research firm in Foster City, California that tracks more than 500 million unique viewers and 180 billion streams annually on more than 3, 3 billion applications.
In the US, viewing increased by 27% over a year ago. But through most of 2020, the view was more than 40% compared to the previous year, says Conviva.
“A key year for streaming is likely to be remembered,” notes Conviva’s Q4 2020 State of Streaming report. “The industry delivered thriving new services, astronomical peaks of growth, big movies released directly to streaming, and the growing profile of social media platforms.”
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HBO parent AT&T made a leap by making “Wonder Woman 1984” available for free for viewing on HBO Max on the same date (December 25, 2020) it landed in theaters and announced similar plans for all of its 2021 movies. Similarly, Disney made “Soul” available on Disney + on Christmas Day.
Behind these two was the new film with the third biggest opening weekend for streaming from October to December 2020, according to streaming guide Reelgood, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”, which was available to Amazon Prime subscribers in October.
If you build it, we will binge
Similar trends appear from other recent surveys and surveys.
Consumers who subscribe to a paid streaming service now pay for an average of five subscriptions, up from three just before the pandemic, the consulting company Deloitte found in its survey on Digital Media Trends among 1100 American consumers, published last month.
A recent similar finding comes Hub Entertainment Research’s survey of 1,907 US consumers: The number of streaming sources used increased more than 50% to about five services in 2020 from 3 in 2018. It also includes free ad-supported video services, a growing segment of the streaming ecosystem .
The most commonly used streaming services, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers of HighSpeedInternet.com, a comparison site for ISPs:
Netflix at 80%, followed by Amazon Prime (67%), Hulu (57%), Disney + (52%), HBO Max (35%) and Peacock (22%).
If you subscribe to the top five streaming services, you pay about $ 57 every month.
Recent figures from streaming services: Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers globally; 74 million in the United States and Canada; Amazon Prime has more than 150 million worldwide; Disney + (94.9 million); Hulu, 35.4 million (another 4 million subscribe to Hulu’s live TV service); HBO Max, (37.7 million); and Peacock (33 million in the United States).
In another report, released on Tuesday, almost all (86%) of online video subscribers say they expect to retain or increase the number of subscriptions by 2021. More than a third (36%) in the survey among 1,088 online subscribers said they subscribed services since the start of the pandemic they otherwise would not have had, according to the State of the Industry report, published by Brightback, a San Francisco-based customer storage company.
More than 80% of consumers would be more likely to pay for or try a subscription service if they could stop or cancel the service online, the survey found. The gold standard? Netflix, which was rated to have a streaming cancellation experience more than twice better than Amazon.
Streaming now accounts for 25% of the time spent watching TV, according to Nielsen. Streaming video share of TV time averaged 142.5 minutes per week in the second quarter of 2020, up from 81.7 minutes a year ago. “What’s more is that streaming has also taken hold of consumers 55 years and older, often a technological sign of the ubiquitous and constant,” the research firm said in an August report.
Will Americans stick to subscriptions?
Subscriptions have become a trend in themselves, the Brightback survey suggests, with almost 40% subscriptions to other services, including online news, food, fitness or curated services.
Power subscriptions may be ubiquitous – Brightback’s survey showed that 98% of respondents have a streaming subscription – but “we see new categories growing rapidly,” said Brightback CEO Guy Marion. This includes food (31% of respondents subscribe to a service), fitness (34%) and retail / boxes (37%).
These services “fill the gaps left by closed restaurants, gyms and malls in the United States,” he said. “And even when the world opens up, consumers say they plan to stick to the newly acquired subscriptions,” with 86% surveyed saying they plan to keep the current subscriptions or add new ones, Marion said.
To keep subscribers happy and on board, he suggests that it should not only make it easier to cancel, but also take advantage of this opportunity.
Consumers like to know that they can cancel or stop a service temporarily, he says. But about a third (32%) of Brightback respondents said they have changed their mind about canceling a service in the past year after being offered an incentive to stay. The three best examples were discounts (49%), account credits (28%) and a temporary break from the plan (26%), respondents said.
This can be good news for subscribers. “We see many creative ways that subscription merchants test different types of discounts, credits, breaks and more to further stimulate subscribers to stay,” said Marion.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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