More choice sounds like a good thing. However, it’s been shown that there is a point at which too much choice no longer improves perception of value. In fact, too much choice can leave you feeling less satisfied than having fewer choices to begin with. The proliferation of streaming services may well be reaching this tipping point, though arguably cable television has long suffered from choice overload.
The 2019 first-quarter Nielsen Total Audience Report looked at how modern consumers navigate the “paradox of choice” to decide what to watch. Nielsen found that, among adult SVOD users, only one third of them report browsing the menu of a streaming service to find content to watch. And, unfortunately, 21% will quickly stop watching if they are not able to make up their minds.
Given that about 70% of homes have a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service and 72% use streaming-capable TV devices streaming services will need to figure out the best way to keep users engaged with content on these platforms. At present, most streaming users will gravitate back toward their traditional TV preferences when they’re not sure what to watch
At present, almost two-thirds of adults who stream video content use the services to watch exactly what they know they want to watch. One-third will watch when they have a rough idea, and only 22% watch when they don’t know what they want before exploring their options. An interesting thing about video streamers is that—despite the growth of original content offerings from providers like Netflix and Hulu—they focus on the familiar. Almost 60% say they routinely return to their favorite traditional channels, 44% like to scan through traditional channel options, 39% scan the program listings, and 31% browse their DVR recordings.
Younger viewers are more likely to use menus and check out recommended programming, as well as to spend more time exploring, than older viewers. However, they are also the most likely to tune out altogether if they are frustrated and don’t find something they want to watch. Thus, it is critical for streaming solution providers to master content discovery as they seek to cement their place in consumer viewing habits.