Man Using Remote Control In Front Of Television

Whether it’s a Smart TV with the internet and some services baked in, a Blue-Ray player, Roku, Google, FireTV, AppleTV or one of the dozen other internet-connected devices, US households continue to connect their television sets to the Internet at a rapid pace.  A study from Frank N. Magid Associates shows that nearly three-fourths of online consumers now have a TV hooked up to the internet.  That’s up from 59% a year ago.

netflix-hpSo maybe it’s no surprise that two separate studies released this week find that Netflix is the most frequent choice for video (albeit with qualifiers), even more popular than Live TV.  Since Netflix refuses to release any numbers or ratings for their programs, we don’t have hard data to look at, but we do have surveys.

I’ll qualify the first one from E-Poll.  They polled those that had internet connections and had been exposed to streaming programs.  I don’t want to bore you with the methodology (I have some thoughts about that), but the information is interesting.  While it may not show the full picture of what’s happenings, it is indicative of a significant shift in TV viewing.


The results also show that the popularity of streaming is due in large part to viewers’ interest in time shifting, binge watching and avoiding commercials.  Although for Amazon Prime viewers, the subscription is really more about the free shipping than viewing.



Binge viewing is becoming the new norm with nearly half of Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and the majority of Millennials reporting that they binge watch TV programming weekly.

horowitzThe second poll comes from Horowitz Research.  In its State of Cable & Digital Media 2016 report, it reports that streaming is the new norm for younger video consumers. Millennial (18-34 year-old) TV content viewers report spending 54% of their TV viewing time streaming and just 25% live. Across total TV content viewers 18+, the picture is flipped: 50% of viewing is live and 29% is streamed.

The Horowitz study, conducted annually, has been tracking the rapid shift from traditional (live, DVR, and VOD) to streaming. Since 2012, the weekly share of viewing that is streamed has risen from 15% in 2012 to 54% in 2016, while traditional viewing has dropped from 75% to 39% among Millennials (view chart).

The study also reveals that Millennials are more likely to turn to Netflix when they want to watch TV than to live television: 36% say Netflix is their first “go-to” source for TV content; 29% say they go to live TV (view chart).

Although streaming has increased substantially over the past few years, traditional television continues to have value. Three-quarters (76%) of 18-34 year-olds use a combination of traditional and streamed content; just 13% use streaming exclusively.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the video industry. Established MVPDs like Comcast and new players like Layer3 alike are seeking to improve the value proposition of pay TV and reinvent the traditional TV experience with features like voice control, social media integration, and a more seamless cross-platform viewing experience. Whether these features will be enough to keep Millennials with traditional distributors is the next big question.” – Stephanie Wong, Horowitz’s director of marketing and strategy

Expect the trend to continue as more TV’s get hooked up on-line. 

“We’ve seen the proliferation of Internet streaming devices increase by more than half over the past year. Consumers realize they can choose from solid products from brands they trust — and at affordable price points. We expect to see this surge in popularity continue.” – Maryann Baldwin, vice president of Magid Media Futures™

And then, of course, there’s all sorts of mobile viewing with laptops, smartphones, and tablets.  That adds to the streaming totals, but that’s not the whole story.

“Regardless of how they’re connecting for video programming or movies, we’re witnessing a real shift back toward the TV set as the primary screen in U.S. households,” said MaryAnn Baldwin with Nielsen. “Mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones all play their role, but there’s still much to be said for the shared experience of watching together on the largest screen.”