Viewers Are Struggling with the Growth of Streaming Options

Nielsen just released its 2023 State of Play report analyzing trends in streaming media based on data and insights provided by its content solutions business unit Gracenote. While it’s no surprise that audiences are faced with overwhelming choice — with nearly 40,000 individual FAST channels, streaming providers and aggregators to choose from — what is a stunner is that 20 percent of viewers, or 1 in 5, say that when they don’t know what to watch, even after browsing, they opt to end the TV session and find something else to do. According to Nielsen, viewers now devote about 10.5 minutes per TV session figuring out what to watch.

Gracenote data analysis indicates there were 2.7 million video titles available to viewers in the U.S., UK, Canada, Mexico and Germany in July 2023. This number had swelled from 1.9 million titles in June 2021. That’s a 39 percent increase in two years. Of the current count, 86.7 percent were available on streaming services.

“Compounding complexity, many popular shows appear in multiple streaming catalogs, highlighting an industry pivot away from content exclusivity to broader distribution in search of better monetization,” Nielsen explains.

“It’s not just the number of titles available that’s causing friction, but also the mountain of streaming sources and channels for where to find content,” writes StreamTV Insider, noting that “the U.S. accounts for almost 80 percent of all streaming channels.”

The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo Play and others account for “over 1,000 live free channels,” according to Cord Cutters News. As the number of streaming choices increase, viewers are gravitating to FAST services, with “classic TV” a rapidly growing category, Nielsen’s Gracenote data indicates, says Broadcasting & Cable.

“While SVODs have previously spent heavily on original programming, the report also highlighted time viewers spend with older TV shows and a shift towards non-exclusive and licensed content as media companies look to expanded distribution as a way to monetize content,” StreamTV Insider writes

Nielsen’s monthly monitor The Gauge recently announced streaming accounted for 38.7 percent of total TV usage in July, a new record high (even as traditional viewing across broadcast and cable dipped below 50 percent for the first time). It was streaming’s second consecutive monthly record, per Nielsen.

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