Binge-watching the new normal with 96 million U.S. households diving into streaming

By NewscastStudio

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Samba TV, a provider of data and measurement across devices, analyzed approximately 45 billion hours of linear and streaming viewership in the first half of 2023. The results illustrate an evolving viewership landscape as audiences embrace new over-the-top streaming options.

In particular, the recent rollout of ad-supported tiers by major streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix, along with the rise of free, ad-supported streaming TV, presents advertisers with better ways to reach younger and more diverse audiences. More than half of these viewers do not watch traditional cable TV, Samba TV noted.

One of the standout statistics from the report is the rise of binge-watching. A staggering 72% of U.S. adults now identify as binge-watchers. This isn’t just a fleeting fad—it appears to be the new standard of consumption. To put this into perspective, almost three-quarters of the American adult population has adopted a practice that was virtually unheard of a decade ago.

This trend has been bolstered by streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+, which release entire seasons at once, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in a show without interruption. The data backs this up: 47% of households watched the entirety of the top bulk-release shows within just five days of their release.

While binge-watching is flourishing, traditional TV isn’t fading into obscurity just yet.

Linear television still has a daily reach of about 57 million U.S. households. However, the winds of change are evident. The report suggests that as more live sports and news transition to streaming platforms, traditional TV might find it challenging to retain younger viewers. This is underscored by the fact that a whopping 96 million U.S. households tuned into OTT content in the first half of 2023, with over three-quarters of U.S. adults streaming.

Advertisers adapting to streaming

This shift in viewing habits is more than just a cultural curiosity—it has significant implications for advertisers. The data from Samba TV underscores the opportunity presented by advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) services. With the introduction of AVOD options by industry leaders like Disney+ and Netflix, advertisers have a fresh avenue to engage with a younger, more diverse audience.

But it’s not just about having more platforms; it’s about using them wisely. The over-saturation of advertisements on linear television has led to ad fatigue among viewers. Advertisers must strike a balance to ensure their messages are seen without overwhelming their audience.

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The broadcast industry report paints a clear picture: streaming is not just an alternative to traditional TV—it’s fast becoming the primary mode of consumption for many.

With 90% of streamers engaging with AVOD and an increasing number of consumers diversifying their streaming platforms, the landscape is evolving rapidly.

Moreover, the success of dramas on streaming platforms—despite making up just 8% of programming spend—suggests that viewers are looking for deeper, more involved content. It’s a hint for content creators about where they might want to focus their energies.

Key points

Other key data points of the survey include:

  • 1 in 4 premium streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) subscriptions were ad-supported in 2023.
  • About half of households watched two or less streaming services, while the majority watched three or less. Despite limitless options of content to watch across platforms, people remain unlikely to watch more than a few services over the course of a six-month period.
  • 65% of millennials would consider subscribing to a discounted streaming service if it meant watching ads, while 32% of millennials subscribe to FAST services.
  • With consumers looking to cut costs and limit the number of paid services they subscribe to, FAST becomes more and more appealing to Americans, with 1 in 3 U.S. streamers subscribe to FAST services.
  • 6 in 10 Netflix and Disney+ subscribers would watch live events if those services offered more of them.
  • Despite drama making up just 8% of programming spend for global streamers, the genre made up more than 50% of the top 50 streaming shows of the first half of the year. Rounding out the top three with over a quarter of the most-watched shows each were thrillers and comedies.

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