Half of Americans now stream video, says consultant

‘If you don’t multitask when you watch TV, you’re in the minority,’ a consultant says of Americans’ changing media consumption habits.

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Streaming and binge watching have taken over from live television consumption among some demographics, a major consulting firm says.

A significant 70% of American consumers overall “now binge watch an average of five episodes at a time,” says Deloitte in a press release about its 10th annual, and latest, Digital Democracy Survey (Summary PDF).

Half of consumers (46%) now “subscribe to streaming video services,” the consultant says it’s found.

As one might expect, millennials watch streamed video more than traditional television. Deloitte reckons that millennials like streaming so much that they have an average of three subscriptions.

But it was across the board that binge watching has taken hold. A third of boomers (35%) that binge watch do so weekly, and when they do it they watch four episodes at a time. Deloitte classifies baby boomers as being those aged 50 to 68.

It’s primarily drama that’s driving the habit, but not by a big margin. A little over half of all binging consumers (53%) do it for television dramas.

Further societal changes around the TV, corroborated by the report, include inroads from texting and social networking fighting for consumer attention. Those activities don't appear to be replacing video consumption, they’re just being performed at the same time. A third of consumers “typically browse the web while watching TV,” the consultant believes.

In fact “If you don’t multitask when you watch TV, you’re in the minority,” Deloitte says in its press release. Ninety-percent multitask when watching TV, the study finds.

The worst culprits were the millennials again. They performed five activities while watching television. That included the TV watching, social networking, texting and web browsing. Deloitte doesn’t say what the fifth one is in its news release.

In any case, less than a quarter of extra activities have anything to do with the respective show being consumed, the research found.

Deloitte’s study, performed by an “independent research firm” queried over 2,000 consumers online at the end of 2015.

Ownership of flat panel televisions (84%), laptops (82%) and smartphones (74%), among consumers, is greater than it’s ever been, the survey showed.

Mobile app use for streaming video is popular. A quarter (27%) of those who were asked what kinds of apps they used every day or weekly said they used streaming video ones.

And why? Deloitte says one reason for the new behavior is that current media habits weren’t possible before. “With tech advancements putting power directly in our hands it’s expanded the realm of possibility,” it says in a video about the report. “Our entertainment behavior has changed significantly in a pretty short time,” it continues.

It appears that consumers like the advantages of streaming. Almost three-quarters of streamers (74%) said they liked being able to watch content when they wanted to. Almost as many (66%) perceived value because they could watch content without commercials. Mobility also played a role in the value perception. Sixty-one percent liked the idea that they could watch wherever they wanted.

And of the desire to watch without commercials? How much of a problem is that going to be for the rights owners who have traditionally been funded through ads?

Not much, maybe. “For Millennials aged 19-32, recommendations from their social media circle and online reviews have now surpassed the influence of TV advertising,” the report says.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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