Industry Voices—Giegengack: Peak streaming and the battle for disposable time

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As we reach the halfway point of 2020, the U.S. TV market finds itself in even greater upheaval than usual. Consumers were already adopting more of the new streaming platforms available, and the pandemic has only accelerated this trend. In April 2020, the average viewer was watching content from 4.8 different sources – up more than 50% since April 2018. While much of the growth (and media attention) goes to paid platforms like Disney+, there’s a resurgence in free ad-supported platforms like Pluto TV; 40% of respondents in April 2020 say they use an AVOD provider vs. only 33% in April 2019.

This “stacking” of video services makes the competition for disposable time fiercer than ever. In 2020, almost half (46%) of all viewers use two or more of the “Big 3” SVODs (Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon) vs. only 33% in 2018. The hallmark of these platforms is their virtually bottomless catalogs; any one of them offers enough content to keep a viewer occupied for hours. With many using two or even all three of them, there is more competition than ever for every potential viewing session.

Nielsen, Comscore and others are reporting that as stay-at-home measures ease, TV viewing has lowered from its peak earlier in the pandemic. But with new streamers like HBO Max and Peacock entering the market, the number of platforms competing for consumers’ attention continues to rise and the looming recession threatens to squeeze the finances of many. As consumers prioritize spending, the winning platforms will be those with a deep library, compelling content, and the ability to refresh that content with new shows even as the pandemic makes producing them increasingly difficult.

Interested in more data on this subject, as well as more research and consumer insights on the broader streaming television industry? Please register for our virtual StreamTV Summer Research Summit on 6/29-6/30 here, where a collection of top industry analysts will be releasing a treasure trove of exclusive data and forecasts across a wide variety of leading trends in OTT. It's a one of a kind event you won't want to miss. We hope to see you there.

Jon Giegengack is the founder and principal of Hub Entertainment Research, an insights agency uncovering consumer behaviors at the intersection of entertainment and technology. Learn more at Hub Entertainment Research.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.