Streaming video consumption rises 18%, many want bundled options - Nielsen

Time spent streaming video continued to rise in the past year, but consumers are starting to feel overwhelmed by options and desire more simplicity via bundles, according to new data from Nielsen.

Nielsen’s first State of Play report shows a double digit increase of 18% in American’s average weekly time streaming video year over year between February 2021 and February 2022. The total average amount rose from 143.2 billion streamed minutes to 169.4 billion minutes.

The report is based on ratings, TV measurements, and video and data analytics form Nielsen and Gracenote, as well as a streaming media consumer survey of a representative sample of 1,394 U.S. adults who currently use streaming video services, conducted from December 14 to January 6.

The sheer amount of content to watch rose as well, as over the last three years the amount of available video content jumped 18%, according to Nielsen. Nielsen’s Gracenote listed more than 817,000 unique program titles across U.S. traditional TV services and streaming (with many of those featuring hundreds of individual episodes and chapters) compared to December 2019 when there were around 646,000 unique titles.

The bulk of the content as of February was on transactional VOD services, for example a program like Yellowstone and services such as Amazon, Apple TV and Google Play, covering 53% of available titles. Non-exclusive SVOD was next at 41%, where syndicated TV with shows like Friends comes into play and services like HBO Max. Those available exclusively on subscription video on demand services like Netflix were last in terms of percentage of titles available at 15%, similar to exclusive linear TV at 16%.  Free ad-supported services like the Roku channel had 36% of titles available, ahead of non-exclusive titles on linear TV such as Blue Bloods, and platforms like CBS and several OTT platforms.

Streaming platforms are also increasing their share for proportion of time viewers tune in. In February, content from streaming platforms accounted for just under 29% of consumers’ total time with TV, outpacing broadcast programming at 26.4% for the fourth month in a row.

Paid streaming service subscriptions grow, many desire bundles

As new content pops up across more streaming options, viewers have increased the number of services they subscribe to and pay for over the past few years. According to the report, 58% of those that have paid video subscriptions pay for three or more streaming services, up significantly from 32% in 2019.

And those that have four or five paid streaming services increased from 11% in 2019 to 28% in 2022 (this year an additional 7% also said they had six or more, a metric that wasn’t captured three years ago).

A survey also found that 93% of Americans plan to either add more paid streaming services or stick with existing plans. Nielsen said in the report that its survey data on the number of paid streaming services stands somewhat in contrast to many market expectations that there will be significant churn as streaming wars heat up.

“Notably, the adoration among consumers isn’t specific to a particular age group or other demographic: it’s universal. In fact, only one in 20 say they have negative feelings about their streaming experiences, and more than two-thirds (69%) say they didn’t cancel any services in the past year,” stated Nielsen in the report.

However, as video consumption and choice increases, the survey reflected what some others have found, in that consumers are somewhat overwhelmed by how many options they have. According to Nielsen, 64% of viewers want a bundled streaming service that would allow them to choose as few or as many video streaming services they want, with 9% feeling there’s no need for bundled services, while 46% said it's harder to find the content they want because there are too many services available.

Just this week, ad-supported video platform Plex introduced an update to help ease search and discovery of shows and movies across both paid and free platforms. Several others have aggregation efforts, such as Verizon’s recently introduced +Play, which combines a variety of users’ subscription services including partners Netflix, Peloton, Disney+ and others.

Another tidbit in the report was rising vMVPD adoption, which grew from 7.1% of all households to 12.5% by February 2022. It shows YouTube TV as leading the pack with 5% adoption, followed by other leaders of Hulu + Live (3%), Sling TV (2%) and DirecTV Stream (1%). Only Hulu and YouTube showed upticks in adoption, and Nielsen said the percentage of homes with YouTube TV has grown by more than 160% since February 2020.