Streamers Have 10 Minutes to Find Content: Nielsen

In an age of peak TV, the decision about what to watch has become so difficult that 21% of streaming service users decide to do something else before they can find a program that interested them.

Making program navigation and discovery easier for consumer is increasingly important to TV providers and in its new first quarter Total Audience Report, Nielsen takes a closer look at how streamers decide what to watch.

For streamers, Nielsen said there’s a 10-minute warning in which viewers either find what they want to watch or move on to something else.

The average adult takes a little over 7.4 minutes to find something, while adults 18-49 take between 8.4 and 9.4 minutes. Older adults abandon their pursuit after 5 minutes.

Overall 21% of streaming service users said they decide to not watch any content and do something different when they want to watch but they don’t know exactly what.

“Were you stuck in decision purgatory, endlessly checking out previews unable to make an actual choice? How long were you there? And how much do you think the paradox of choice costs programmers, content owners, brands and marketers? Surely nobody wins when potential consumers get frustrated by the amount of choice, or simply unappealing options, and ultimately decide to just go to sleep instead,” said the report’s author, Peter Katsingris, senior VP, audience insights, at Nielsen.

“Content discovery, be it through the streaming menu algorithms that serve up options based on your prior choices, network promos for new shows, playlist feeds from digital music apps, or even friends’ recommendations is crucial to consumers in an era when they’re inundated with ads and content,” Katsingris said. “Conversely, these same consumers are connecting to this fragmented content at unparalleled rates—well over 11 hours each day across screens and devices. So it’s never been more critical for content owners and marketers to cut through the clutter, and maybe even spur some disloyalty, to ensure that their offerings stand out from everything else.”

Nielsen found that 66% of streaming service users know what they want to watch when tuning in. That percentage goes up with age, with only 61% of 18 to 34 year olds saying they know what they want to watch on their streaming service, and 75% of adults 65 years and up known what they want to watch.

Just 22% of streaming subscribers say they don’t know what they want to watch at all prior to watching.

In Nielsen’s research 26% of streaming viewers said they watched content based on recommendations, while 58% still say they tune into favorite channels. Another 44% say they scan through the channels, 39% check descriptions from the guide or menu. 33% said the browse menus on subscription services..

“We know old habits die hard, and when faced with the dilemma of what to watch in an ever-increasing ocean of content, users are most likely to revert back to what they learned from linear TV—checking out certain favorite channels and surfing, Katsingris said. “Both are testaments to the simplistic utilitarianism of the TV remote as well as the power of familiarity. Both also suggest that programmers need to spur viewing disloyalty a little more.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.