Nielsen Says Viewers ‘Love’ Streaming but Find It Confusing

Seventy two percent of Americans say they “love” their user experience with streaming services, according to Nielsen’s State of Play report, which notes that 93 percent of those surveyed will increase their streaming subscriptions or make no change, despite nearly half the respondents admitting they’re somewhat overwhelmed by options. As of February, U.S. viewers could choose from more than 817,000 unique program titles, compared to about 646,000 in 2019. In the 12 months ending February 2022, Americans’ upped their average weekly video streaming time by 18 percent, to 169.4 billion streaming minutes, from 143.2 billion.

The viewing time increase for streaming is matched by a commensurate 18 percent uptick in available video content, and 18 percent of Americans now subscribe to at least four streaming services, compared to only 7 percent who had that many in 2019, according to Nielsen’s State of Play.

“Last year, Americans watched an insane total of almost 15 million years’ worth of streaming video content,” TechCrunch reports, explaining that as a result of the nearly 20 percent gain in unique program titles, 46 percent of streaming viewers “believe that the number of platforms makes it difficult to find what they’re looking for.”

An Accenture poll conducted from October to November 2021 found that “on average, viewers in the U.S. alone spend over 600 million minutes every single night trying to figure out what to watch,” while a Horowitz poll indicates 49 percent “say they find it hard to know what shows are on which streaming services, and 44 percent say they often have a hard time finding something to watch at all.”

TechCrunch reports that Nielsen Global Media SVP of product strategy Brian Fuhrer feels the State of Play study reveals streaming has “moved from infancy into adolescence and all the complexities that one would expect at that point,” adding that “consumers want access simplified, and the explosion of services has renewed discussions around bundling and aggregation. Ultimately, these challenges signal an opportunity as the industry harnesses streaming for long-term business growth.”

Sixty four percent of State of Play respondents professed to “a desire for a bundled video streaming service that would allow them to choose as few or as many videos streaming services as they wanted,” according to TechCrunch, noting that Verizon Plus Play facilitates some bundling, as does Disney+ and Paramount+.

Last week, Plex announced it was enabling viewing “across virtually any streaming service” from a centralized dashboard.

Interestingly, only 15 percent of the titles Nielsen identifies as unique “are exclusive to a particular subscription streaming outlet, as in the case of a show like ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix,” writes Deadline, adding that “about 41 percent of programming, by contrast, is available on multiple subscription streaming outlets on a non-exclusive basis.”