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Survey Report

2021 Streaming Habits Survey:Americans Admit to Watching 1.5 Months of Streaming TV During Pandemic

“Are you still watching?” In our survey of pandemic streaming habits, we found the answer to be an overwhelming “yes.”

What’s one more episode?

Streaming TV has, for many of us, become the soundtrack to our lives at home (in addition to dogs barking, delivery drivers knocking, messaging apps pinging, and perhaps children asking, again, for a snack). Our favorite shows have become a comfort during difficult times and a source of entertainment during long hours spent in lockdown — but just how much have our streaming habits changed over the past year?

We set out to uncover how our relationship with streaming TV has evolved during the pandemic — and just how many among us dedicated part of peak lockdown periods to devouring Tiger King.

How Much Time Did Americans Spend Streaming?

How Much Time Did Americans Spend Streaming?

With millions of Americans suddenly finding themselves at home all day, all the time, televisions and tablets became cherished friends. Streaming services provide the dangerous ability to binge-watch series on demand, particularly when the couch is comfortable and the remote is nowhere to be found. While this was a common practice prior to the pandemic, limited options for entertainment led households to become streaming connoisseurs.

A majority of our respondents reported watching at least three hours of streaming content a day (38% on weekdays, and 48% on weekends), which translates to a minimum of 45 days of streaming a year. This means respondents spent a month and a half streaming content on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other services during the pandemic — a figure that might make you want to read a book right now.

According to Nielsen studies, adults in the U.S. are watching more than four hours of television a day, which includes streaming and live TV. That amounts to 1,460 hours, or 60.8 days, or two full months of TV per year. This tells us that Americans may be watching even more than they think — and many already admit they are watching a significant amount.

Adults in the U.S. are watching more than four hours of television a day

Many households upgraded their viewing setups because of the pandemic, allowing them to watch endless content in style (strictly speaking of technology, of course, and not of the nation’s newfound proclivity for sweatpants). From Disney+ to HBO Max, consumers also had a host of new streaming platforms to choose from, each with their own cascade of original content.

Many households upgraded their viewing setups because of the pandemic

With a surplus of downtime at their disposal, a whopping 75.6% of respondents stated they rewatched favorite shows during the pandemic, while many also indicated indulging in “guilty pleasure” series that captivated audiences around the world. Thirty-one percent revisited whether Ross and Rachel from Friends were really “on a break,” while 37% tuned in to discover the strange world of Joe Exotic on Tiger King.

The Great British Bake-Off also appeared as a common “comfort” show, and 26.25% of respondents also indicated they’d prefer to enter the tent to bake elaborate patisserie over participating in any other streaming reality show.

Additional Streaming Stats

Additional Streaming Stats

Additional Streaming Stats

For some, streaming is omnipresent: You wake up, you pour a cup of coffee, and you put on an episode of The Office that you’ve seen 37 times. From additional screen time for kids to extra background noise during working hours, here’s what we discovered about how TV streaming has made its way into stay-at-home routines.

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead

When asked if they planned to stream less in 2021, more than 60% stated they’d continue as usual. With still-limited options for entertainment and additional time still being spent at home, we’re likely to adopt more streaming services into our lives. And as those services continue to churn out the content, we’ll be watching … and watching … and yes, still watching.

Survey Methodology

Using Pollfish, we surveyed 2,000 men and women over the age of 18 living in the United States. To learn more about their streaming habits, we asked questions about time spent watching TV, as well as platform and streaming preferences, and featured the top responses in this report.

For media inquiries about this report, please contact sarah.pike@sykes.com