Streaming won’t wane in coming months, survey finds

The Amazon Fire TV Lite streaming stick with Alexa-enabled voice remote. (Product photo courtesy Amazon/Graphic by The Desk)

The majority of Americans will continue streaming a significant amount of video content over the next three months, in line with a jump in consumption that was seen during the coronavirus pandemic last year, according to a new survey released on Monday.

The survey conducted by technology website The Drum and market research firm YouGov found nearly 7 out of 10 Americans won’t reduce their streaming consumption over the next quarter, even as the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel starts to get brighter.

Streaming video consumption jumped last year as Americans were largely stuck at home with little to do during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. With an increasing amount of Americans getting vaccinated, going back to the office and otherwise returning to normal life, it was natural to think that activities would start to shift away from watching movies and TVs toward outdoor concerts, sporting events and traveling — things that weren’t so easy to do during the pandemic.

But a majority of Americans say they won’t be giving up their streaming habits — at least not right away.

Two-thirds of the 1,200 American adult consumers surveyed by The Drum and YouGov say they plan to watch the same amount of streaming content over the next three months, and an impressive 1 out of 10 adults say they intend to watch more content than they have over the previous year.

One marketer said this is owed to permanent habit changes among television consumers: Streaming is in, everything else is out.

“While Covid-19 is an anomaly, the trends that we see coming out of it are not,” Ryan Eusanio, the managing director of digital activation at Omnicom Media Group, told The Drum on Monday. “People shifted their viewing habits permanently.”

Eusanio said the pandemic accelerated a transition that was already taking place, one that saw most consumers ditch their expensive cable and satellite television service for cheaper streaming offerings.

A rapid expansion of streaming services didn’t hurt — Comcast’s Peacock, AT&T’s HBO Max and Discovery Plus all launched during the pandemic. Other streaming services, including Fox Corporation’s Tubi and ViacomCBS premium streamer Paramount Plus (formerly CBS All Access), beefed up their content offerings at the same time.

Another thing that didn’t hurt was a shift away from theatrical releases toward streaming debuts: The pandemic forced movie theaters to close temporarily, which meant producers and distributors had to find another way to get their premiere films in front of an audience. They increasingly turned to streaming — Comcast offered its Universal Pictures releases on video rental services like Amazon Prime Video and Apple’s iTunes, while  AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the Walt Disney Company offered their theatrical debuts through their own streaming apps.

The latter tactic appears to have some sticking power: More than half of those surveyed by The Drum and YouGov said they have no intention of letting a streaming subscription activated during the pandemic lapse within the next few months, even though they may be beyond the free trial period (if any was offered to begin with).

That said, the survey found that most consumers surveyed only have access to a few premium subscription services: Half of those who responded to the survey said they have just one or two subscription streaming plans, while just 12 percent of those surveyed said they have four or more subscriptions.

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