Time Spent Streaming Surges 92% From Last Year, as Viewers Flock to Netflix, Hulu During Quarantine (Chart)

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Streaming Time Almost Doubles as Viewers Flock to Netflix, Hulu During Pandemic | Chart

The average U.S. household watched 662 minutes of SVOD content in July

Americans are spending nearly twice as much time as they were last year watching major subscription streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

From July 2019 to July 2020, there was a 92% spike in the time the average American household spent streaming, according to research shared by 7Park Data. Last month, the average American household streamed 662 minutes from the top streaming services, compared to 344 minutes during the same time last summer. (For reference, there are 128.6 million U.S. households.)

Netflix, which has released shows like “Tiger King” and “Unsolved Mysteries” in recent months, accounted for the lion’s share of the average time people spent streaming. The average U.S. household spent 506 minutes streaming Netflix last month, compared to 89 minutes for Amazon Prime Video and 76 minutes for Hulu, the two next-closest services.

And while the July streaming data was big jump compared to a year ago, it actually represented a 10% dip from April, which was the first full month widespread lockdowns took place.

You can look at the last year’s worth of data on how much the average U.S. household has been streaming below:

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A few caveats should be noted, though. First, it’s worth pointing out a few major streaming services have launched since last July. Two of the “Big 5” services tracked by 7Park Data — Apple TV+ and Disney+ — weren’t available until last fall. (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are the other three services tracked.) It also doesn’t include HBO Max and Peacock, two other streaming services that recently debuted and are not included in the survey. But even if Disney+ and Apple TV+ were completely removed from the equation, time spent watching the top subscription video on demand (SVOD) services would still be up 85% compared to last year.

Secondly, it’s also worth keeping in mind this strictly tracks the most popular streaming services — and doesn’t include live TV streaming data from Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV, for instance. In other words: Americans are streaming even more than the data indicates.

Roku, which allows users to stream Netflix and other major services, shed more light on this recently. The company reported its 43 million accounts watched 14.6 billion hours of content during Q2 — or about 3.77 hours per day on average. During the same time frame a year earlier, Roku accounts watched an average of 3.4 hours of content per day.

No matter how you slice it, the belief many analysts held — that the pandemic would lead to more time spent on the couch, streaming content — has proven true. From April to July, the monthly streaming average per U.S. household was 673.75 minutes, which represented a 16% increase from March, when the pandemic first hit the States, and a 44% increase from February.

That squares with a recent report from TheWrap showing one out of four Americans has added a new streaming service during the coronavirus pandemic. With not much else to do, millions of people are suddenly streaming more than they ever have.

In July, “Hamilton” was a big driver to Disney+, according to 7Park Data, while “Ozark” helped propel Netflix and “Bob’s Burgers” topped Hulu’s rankings in April.

There’s also been a healthy desire for nostalgia, 7Park Data analyst Shelley Yang said, as viewers look to revisit classic shows or watch them for the first time.

“We noted that a lot of viewers are going deep into library content,” Yang said. “For example, with Amazon Prime Video, a lot of viewers are watching all the seasons of “The Sopranos,” or all the seasons of “Downton Abbey,” before it was pulled for a little bit.”

Yang also pointed out “The Golden Girls” and “Seinfeld” — two series that went off the air in the ’90s — have been among Hulu’s top 6 most popular TV shows.

Looking ahead, Yang expects Americans to continue streaming more than they have in the past — but there might be a slight dip in the months ahead. One reason? Viewers are simply running out of shows and movies they want to watch.

“The fact that there isn’t that much [new] content out there — which is impacted by productions being halted because of COVID-19 — that might definitely impact these streaming services moving forward.”

Sean Burch