Streaming services take hours from broadcasters as consumers evolve TV habits

young streaming consumers

New research shows that streaming services are continuing to take hours away from broadcast and cable television viewing.

The report, Holistic Entertainment 2021: The Complete Consumer, from Interpret, shows broadcast and cable networks saw viewing dip about an hour between 2019 and 2021, while viewing on streaming services has increased by about the same amount.

But Interpret also found that the average weekly time spent on entertainment overall has increased by an average of five hours between 2019 and 2021.

While TV and movie viewing hours increased during the study period, their growth has been significantly outpaced by other forms of entertainment, including music, gaming and podcasts.

Streaming services’ young viewers drive change – again

The increased diversity in time spent on consumer entertainment is particularly strong among young consumers, a demographic that has been difficult for traditional video media companies to capture.

“The differences in entertainment among age groups points to where consumption habits are going,” said Brett Sappington, vice president at Interpret. “Almost half of entertainment time for older consumers is spent on TV and movie viewing. For those age 13-24, that figure falls to less than one-third of time spent.”

Overall, said Sappington, TV programming and movies continue to be the largest share of entertainment time spent among consumers. That could change as younger consumers gain a larger role in the market.

“Young consumers in particular see gaming, short form video, and livestreaming as valid, even preferable, alternatives to premium video content,” he said. “We see several companies already capitalizing on this trend, including Netflix expanding into video games, Amazon providing music and video games as well as Prime Video, and Apple growing several media areas beyond music, including news, magazines, and video.”

The bottom line

What’s it mean?

Content creators – and streaming services in general – need to continue to evolve along with (or, hopefully, ahead of) their audience, creating new content engagement points that don’t just stroke existing fans, but drives the interests of new ones over time.

As Sappington notes, media companies need to “push the boundaries of entertainment in order to engage with consumers and remain relevant over time.”

We’ve seen some early examples of this with game tie-ins to new movie releases – games or multi-part trailers, for example – along with other marketing plays.

But to keep expanding audiences there needs to be more… and they need to create new revenue streams, not just promote an existing property.

AMC has, for example, parlayed its Walking Dead franchise into multiple spinoffs, some available only online, a talk show focused on the most recent episode and more.

That’s a great start.

Adding more content, in different forms (especially short-form content that can easily be consumed on mobile devices) should be a priority.

It’s really not enough, anymore, to engage with a viewer once a week. The entertainment milieu has become too broad, too fragmented and viewers are increasingly fickle.

Establishing a meaningful – and long-term – relationship will be the key to maintaining and growing your audience.

Jim O’Neill is Director of the Strategic Consulting Practice at Brightcove, as well as Brightcove’s Principal Analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn