Streaming chaos: Increasing number of services makes it harder for viewers to find the content they want

Unique program titles went from 646,000 in 2019 to 817,000 today.

Some 46% of US viewers say the number of video streaming services makes it tougher to find the shows they’re interested in, according to a Nielsen report. For marketers, this is a loss of opportunity as audiences are spread ever thinner, while finding it harder to identify content they want to engage with.

This comes even as there are more choices than ever. The number of unique program titles increased 20%, from 646,000 to 817,000, between December 2019 and February of this year. 

Breaking it down. Americans are certainly doing their best to keep up with that. Their average weekly time streaming video increased by 18% YOY, to 4 hours, 49 minutes. A little over half of that time (53%) went to streaming video on demand. Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) like Comcast, DirecTV, DISH, Cox, etc., were used 25% of the time. Virtual MVPDs – Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, etc. – came in at 10%.

In February of this year, content from streaming platforms accounted for just under 29% of consumers’ total time with TV, ahead of broadcast programming (26.4%) for the fourth straight month. In total, Americans watched nearly 15 million years’ worth of streaming video content last year.

The number of Americans now paying for four streaming services increased to 18% vs. 7% in 2019. Nearly two-thirds of viewers (64%) say they wished there was a bundled streaming service that would let them choose the channels they want.

Why we care. While viewing time has increased, there is only so much further it can grow. Given that it is possible that some SVOD providers will fall by the way side. It is also possible they will find a large enough niche audience to support them. Either outcome is good for marketers. Fewer platforms and titles would mean more viewers for those that remain. Successful niche operations offer more targeted marketing opportunities.

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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.