The Pressure Is on Streaming Giants as Consumers Spend Less Time in Front of Their TVs

couple watching scary horror tv show at night during weekend in living room sitting on sofa
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During the pandemic, streaming platforms both programmed and live experienced incredible success. Now that Americans are resuming more “normal” activities away from home, streaming’s influence is dwindling and its pandemic heyday seems to be over.

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Streaming services were one of the biggest winners during the pandemic, with usage surging and Americans spending 44% more time streaming videos in the fourth quarter of 2020 than they did a year earlier, according to a quarterly research report on the state of streaming by Conviva. 

Streaming giants like Netflix, Disney, Roku and Viacom leveraged social media to attract more viewers than ever before, and the investment paid off. In the first quarter of 2021, total social media posts by streaming publishers were up 99% over the same period last year, according to the Conviva’s Q1 research report. Conviva added that the overall social audience was up 60% for streaming publishers like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Crunchyroll. Interestingly, social media platform TikTok was a major factor in that growth. More content translated to more followers, and with people stuck at home, the streaming services did not have to do much to get followers hooked.

Being stuck at home also meant that televisions commanded the most attention. The big-screen category experienced a 239% increase in viewing time as more viewers watched “natively” within their TVs during the second quarter, Conviva stated.

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As coronavirus restrictions begin to ease up and the summer weather entices people out of their homes, the streaming wars really begin now, CNBC stated. Media and technology companies will need to show investors they can grow streaming subscribers when everyone isn’t stuck inside.

A potential problem for determining the success of streaming services is the difference in industry transparency when it comes to performance. Overall, subscription services with monthly payments have difficulty in assessing the monetary performance of an individual piece of content. Additionally, metrics and data collection vary between streaming services, making comparisons among competitors even more difficult.

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For example, Netflix and Disney+ charge a monthly fee for access to all of their streaming content, whereas theaters charge per view, making an apples-to-apples comparison nearly impossible. Further, Netflix counts a “view” as someone who watched a piece of content for at least two minutes, whereas Hulu counts your viewership if you have watched at least 10% of a show. What 10% means in terms of how long you watched depends on the length of the content. 

As the summer heats up and more and more consumers return to normalcy, streaming companies will need to pull out all the stops to keep activity-deprived viewers glued to their televisions. 

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