Content abounds on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. But when viewers are faced with too many choices of what to watch, some end up tuning out.
That’s the main finding from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report from the first quarter of 2019. What some have dubbed the golden age of TV led to 495 original scripted programs across various TV platforms in 2018, per AdAge, but all of these choices might be paralyzing viewers.
Viewers spend just over 7 minutes browsing a streaming service for something to watch, per Axios. Younger adults — those between 18 and 49 — spend 8 to 10 minutes looking for something before calling it quits, whereas older adults give it just 5 minutes. Just over 20 percent who go in unsure of what they want to watch wind up giving up and tuning out, per Nielsen.
Uncertainty plus too much choice ends up turning many viewers off: Almost 60 percent reported being more likely to go back to favored traditional TV channels if they don’t know what they want to watch via a streaming service.
Plus, only one-third of adults find the content menus — where content is sorted by category and algorithms are used to make suggestions to viewers — helpful when it comes to figuring out what to watch.
“Content discovery…is crucial to consumers in an era when they’re inundated with ads and content,” Peter Katsingris, Nielsen’s SVP of audience insights, is quoted in the report, per The Drum. “Conversely, these same consumers are connecting to this fragmented content at unparalleled rates — well over 11 hours each day across screens and devices.”
The findings support what researchers have observed when it comes to choice, which is that when faced with too many choices, we revert to what’s familiar. We think we like choices, but too many options leaves us stressed trying to make a decision.
Seven in 10 homes have a subscription video on demand service, per Nielsen, and more than 70 percent use streaming-capable TV devices. Video viewing through TV-connected devices has increased by 8 minutes per day, reports Deadline.
Axios points out these findings come as even more companies get into the streaming game. Disney is set to launch its streaming service, Disney+, which will offer Disney, Marvel and Star Wars films, and Apple has announced its forthcoming Apple TV+ streaming service, joining Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and ESPN+.
For those who do know what they want to watch, it can be frustrating to manage the subscriptions needed to watch the shows or content they’re interested in, especially as content arrives and disappears from certain platforms, NPR reports. Some experts believe the best streaming services will rise to the top in the next few years, whittling down the competition.
Nielsen notes streaming companies might want to refine recommendations and update content menus to better appeal to users.
Media research data indicates people will spend a total of about $38 a month on streaming services, per the Wall Street Journal.