Feb 13, 2020 - Technology

Streaming TV explodes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Streaming now accounts for nearly 20% of television consumption for most Americans, almost doubling since 2018, a new report from Nielsen shows.

Why it matters: The data shows how quickly consumers are flocking to streaming as a replacement or complement to traditional TV.

Details: Per the report, Netflix accounts for a whopping 31% of streaming time — the largest share of any service — followed by YouTube (21%), Hulu (12%) and Amazon Prime (8%).

  • To no surprise, younger consumers aged 18-34 are most likely to subscribe to several streaming services, and spend the most amount of their TV time streaming.
  • But the vast majority (87%) of older adults 65 years and older subscribe to at least one streamer as well, per the study, demonstrating a societal shift in how television is consumed.

Be smart: Nearly half of U.S. viewers subscribe to three or more steaming services, and that number could increase as streaming becomes even more popular.

  • While one study has suggested that the average American is willing to pay around $42 monthly for streaming services, Nielsen found most consumers (93%) are willing to increase the amount of streaming services they pay for, or at the very least, keep the ones they currently have.
Total Audience Report Reproduced from The Nielsen Total Audience Report, February 2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Last year saw one of the sharpest increases in cord-cutting ever, with almost 1.5 million video subscribers from the four biggest pay-TV providers cutting the cord, according to senior media analyst Michael Nathanson.

  • That's roughly 300,000 worse than what was expected and roughly 700,000 worse than the previous year.
  • A majority of U.S. households (73%) now have access to an internet-connected video device where they can stream video, per Nielsen, making it easier for users to find a video alternative once they do finally cut the cord.

Yes, but: As more streaming platforms emerge to compete for consumers' attention and budgets, the burden is falling on consumers to navigate an overwhelming number of streaming choices.

  • More than 646,000 shows were available in the U.S. across both linear and streaming services last year, a 10% increase from all of 2018, per the study.

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Americans had the ability to watch over 646,000 TV shows in 2019

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

There were over 646,000 shows available in the U.S. across linear and streaming services last year, according to Nielsen's latest Total Audience report, a 10% increase from all of 2018.

Why it matters: As more streaming platforms emerge to compete for consumers' attention and budgets, the burden is falling on consumers to navigate an overwhelming number of content choices.

Free, ad-supported streaming on the rise as major media companies buy up platforms

Data: PwC and Digital TV Research; Chart: Axios VisualsA few of the last remaining major ad-supported streaming platforms are reportedly nearing sales to major media companies.

A few of the last remaining major ad-supported streaming platforms are reportedly nearing sales to major media companies.

Why it matters: The acquisitions show how valuable big media companies think ad-supported streaming services could be to their overall streaming strategies, as they continue to also invest in subscription streaming offerings.

Investors are wary of ViacomCBS' new streaming strategy

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Shares of the newly-combined ViacomCBS dropped a startling 15% last week, after the company announced plans for a new streaming service during its first earnings report as a combined entity.

Why it matters: The company is now worth far less combined ($17 billion in market capitalization) than the two companies were worth separately (around $30 billion) prior to their merger.