U.S. consumers piecing together their own personalized entertainment experiences

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
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Deloitte: More Options Allow U.S. Consumers to Piece Together Personalized Entertainment Experiences

  • Average U.S. consumer subscribes to three video streaming services
  • Forty-three percent of consumers subscribe both to streaming services and Pay TV
  • Eight minutes of ads per hour is the right amount — but consumers get twice as many
  • Ownership of voice assisted speakers grows by 140 percent
  • eSports moves mainstream, with a third of U.S. consumers watching once a week

NEW YORK — Faced with an unprecedented array of digital media sources, American consumers are taking their entertainment matters into their own hands and piecing together their experiences across multiple services (pay TV, streaming video, gaming and music) to access their favorite content, according to Deloitte’s 13th edition of the Digital Media Trends survey. The average U.S. consumer now subscribes to three streaming video services, with 43 percent of consumers subscribing to both streaming and traditional pay television (TV) services.

This year’s survey noted strong growth in streaming video subscription services (69 percent) and streaming music services (41 percent). Pay TV remained relatively flat with 65 percent of U.S. households subscribing to the same, and 29 percent paying for live TV streaming services. High-quality, original content continues to be a dominant factor in streaming video growth, with 57 percent of current U.S. streaming consumers (and 71 percent of millennials, ages 22-35) subscribing to streaming video services to access original content.

The survey found that 37 percent of U.S. millennials binge-watch every week, watching an average of four hours in a single sitting. Consumers also continue to spend more time streaming video from their paid services (46 percent) versus free video streaming services (29 percent). Consumers are not only binge-watching in high numbers, they are also streaming movies, with 70 percent of millennials reporting they stream movies weekly, and 40 percent doing so daily. Furthermore, social media remains supreme with millennials (54 percent) in the search for new TV shows.

“With more than 300 over the top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue,’” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment leader, Deloitte LLP. “As media companies and content owners wrestle with how to retain and grow their subscriber base, they should not only continue to strengthen their content libraries, quality, distribution and value, but also keep a close eye on consumer frustrations, including advertising overload and data privacy concerns.”

More freedom — and, more friction?

While consumers are exercising their increased power to choose their own programming, nearly half (47 percent) are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want. Additionally, 57 percent of consumers express frustration when content disappears from their streaming libraries.

While consumers know exactly what they want to watch (69 percent of the time), they also expressed frustrations with content discovery across platforms:

  • Forty-three percent of consumers give up on the search for content, if they can’t find it in a few minutes;
  • Forty-eight percent say content is hard to find across multiple services;
  • Nearly half (49 percent) say the sheer amount of content available makes it hard to choose what to watch.

Consumers are also increasingly wary of how companies handle their data, with 82 percent citing they don’t believe companies do enough to protect their personal data. Conversely, consumers overwhelmingly believe they are responsible for protecting (49 percent) and owning (88 percent) their data. Very few respondents (7 percent) believe that the government should play a role in protecting their data.

Advertising overload — consumers tap out

The survey found consumer dissatisfaction with high volumes of advertising, pushing them away from pay TV.

  • Three quarters (75 percent) of consumers say they would be more satisfied with their pay TV service, if there were fewer ads, and 77 percent indicated ads on pay TV should be under 10 seconds;
  • Eighty-two percent believe there is excessive repetition of ads;
  • Forty-four percent of consumers cited “no ads” as a top reason to subscribe to a new paid streaming service;
  • While consumers indicated eight minutes per hour of ads as the right amount, they also report that 16 minutes or more is when they would stop watching.

Consumers find their voice (assistant)

Ownership of voice-assistant home speakers grew 140 percent year-over-year with total penetration soaring from 15 percent to 36 percent. When consumers use digital assistants, 42 percent of the time they are using them on home devices versus smartphones (34 percent of the time).

  • The top five uses of voice-enabled digital assistants are playing music, searching for information, getting directions, making phone calls and setting alerts.
  • However, voice still lacks a killer capability, with half of consumers saying they don’t use voice-enabled digital assistants at all, and only 18 percent claiming to use if daily.

Gaming consoles evolve, and eSports moves mainstream

Gaming is increasingly becoming a centerpiece of the entertainment puzzle, especially as the gaming console continues to evolve as a hub for content consumption.

  • Forty-one percent of consumers play games daily or weekly, and the share rises to 54 percent of Gen Z (ages 14-21).
  • Smartphones (34 percent) are the device of choice to play games, with the exception of Gen Z, who are playing on consoles (33 percent) slightly more frequently.
  • The gaming console is being used more often as an entertainment hub to stream TV/movie content (46 percent), watch online content (42 percent), browse the internet (34 percent), stream music (25 percent), and stream eSports (11 sports).
  • Finally, a third of U.S. consumers watch eSports at least once a week, as does 44 percent of Gen Z.

“Consumers are using a combination of services, so they can watch, hear and play what they want. They’re not waiting for someone to provide it for them,” concluded Dr. Jeff Loucks, executive director, Deloitte Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Deloitte LLP. “Consumers love the freedom to customize their media consumption, but there’s growing friction. Consumers have trouble finding their favorite programs across multiple subscriptions, get frustrated when content “vanishes” from a service without notice, and feel they sit through too many ads. Consumers will pick media companies that give them flexibility to choose the content they want, with less friction.”

The 13th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends survey provides insight into how five generations of U.S. consumers interact with media, products and services, mobile technologies and the internet. This year’s U.S. data was collected from December 2018 to February 2019 and employed an online methodology among 2,003 consumers.