After pandemic peak, consumers stick with streaming

A new survey says American households are consuming more streaming video now than at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic
The home screen of an Android TV streaming device running Google TV’s software. (Image courtesy Google, Graphic by The Desk)

American households added more streaming services this year compared to the peak of the pandemic last year, according to a new survey released this week.

On Thursday, J.D. Power’s TMT Intelligence revealed the number of subscriptions in American homes rose to an average of 4.5 per household as of late June, an increase from 3.9 streaming subscriptions at the end of last December.

The news indicates that American consumers are choosing to stay inside with their favorite shows and movies, despite a near-universal loosening of restrictions on residents and businesses over the last few months.

And streamers are paying more for the privilege of staying at home: The average monthly streaming bill is now $55 a month, TMT Intelligence found, an increase from $47 a month last December.

“Even as virtually all pandemic restrictions have lifted, and the demand for live events, dining and travel has exploded, streaming services are consuming an increasingly large share of the entertainment market — so much so that monthly customer spending on streaming platforms has nearly doubled since spring of 2020,” the report said.

Not surprisingly, survey participants said they were spending more time streaming content now than they did six months ago, with 44 percent of respondents saying they were spending “somewhat more” or “substantially more” time with their favorite streaming apps.

Only 21 percent of respondents said they were spending “substantially less” or “somewhat less” time watching streaming video, while 35 percent of those surveyed said they were spending “about the same” amount of time watching streaming services.

More households are now using smart TVs, streaming dongles and ultra-premium streamers like the Nvidia Shield and Apple TV, too, though the biggest boost came from consumers picking up their phones or tablets to stream shows and movies.

“The use of an app on a mobile phone or tablet to connect to streaming content has jumped to 36 percent of viewership in June 2021 from 25% just more than a year ago (April 2020),” TMT Intelligence said. “In contrast, respondents who said they used an app on their smart TV rose just 4 percent during the same time period.”

Streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast also saw an uptick in adoption, with Roku and Amazon nearly neck and neck (Roku devices lead the pack by one percentage point over Amazon Fire TV devices).

Netflix maintained its market dominance as the most-popular app among streamers, at least according to survey participants, with nearly 9 out of 10 surveyed affirming a subscription to the service.

Amazon Prime Video grew its market share to 76 percent, while the Walt Disney Company’s Hulu earned third place, with 64 percent of respondents acknowledging a subscription to that service.

YouTube TV was the most-used cable-like streaming replacement among those surveyed, with 28 percent of respondents saying they pay for a subscription or have access to the service’s 70-plus pay television channels. AT&T TV came in second, with 14 percent of surveyers affirming a subscription.

“Lucifer,” which streams on Netflix, topped the list of most-recently watched shows among J.D. Power survey participants, with 5 percent of respondents picking it as one of their most-recently watched shows. “The Handmaid’s Tale” on the Walt Disney Company’s Hulu came in second, while “Friends” on HBO Max rounded out the top three.

The J.D. Power survey was conducted by TMT Insights between June 8 and June 9 of this year.

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