Americans Subscribe to an Average of 3 Streaming Video Services

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Smart Home with 20 Comments

The latest Deloitte Digital Media Trends report claims that the average American subscribes to three streaming video services, the same as last year.

“Americans are doing it their way, tethering together their own assortment of services from various providers to get what they want, when they want it,” the report notes. “They appreciate having so many choices, but with three subscriptions services as the average, many say having to piece together a variety of services is a source of frustration. What bothers them? The total number of subscriptions, the time spent searching for shows they want to watch, and when shows on streaming networks expire.”

The report suggests two contrary bits of data for Apple, which is about to enter this market with its own streaming video service. On the one hand, the aggravation and complexity of having to find something to watch across multiple services hints that Apple’s aggregation of services is a good idea. But on the other, Apple is also entering a market that is already crowded with choices, and all of them have more and higher-quality options.

Deloitte also noted that 43 percent of Americans pay for both cable TV and streaming subscriptions. I’m surprised that figure isn’t higher, to be honest: It seems like more Americans would pay for cable TV or its equivalent than not, and that of those, most would subscribe to at least one streaming service like Netflix. Further confusing: When you look just at the middle-aged Gen X audience, the figure actually rises to 52 percent.

Looking at smart speakers, Deloitte claims a 140 percent increase year-over-year, with 36 percent of U.S. households now using a smart speaker, up from 15 percent in 2018. “Voice will invade everything, from TVs to home automation systems,” the report says.

Gaming usage is also up, big-time: One-third of U.S. consumers allegedly watch some form of e-sports each week, a figure that seems wildly inflated to me. The figure jumps to 44 percent for Gen Z consumers. 41 percent of U.S. consumers play video games each week, and the figure rises to 54 percent for Gen Z.

Deloitte also looks at the impact of advertising on entertainment viewing, noting the obvious: Too much advertising pushes consumers away. “With ads [on cable TV] topping out at nearly 20 minutes per hour, 75 percent of consumers say that’s way too many, and 82 percent are frustrated by seeing the same ads over and over again,” the firm says. “What’s just the right amount of advertising? No more than eight minutes of ads per hour. After 16 minutes, consumers say they stop watching.”

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Americans Subscribe to an Average of 3 Streaming Video Services”

  1. j_c

    Yeah that sounds about right. I pay for three. Now the only catch is one of them is Amazon Prime, which I would get otherwise. Then I have Netflix and DirectTV Now. I also buy content directly and pay for a music service and home Internet and Internet for cell phones. It sucks and I don't want to pay for more.


    However, when I did have a cable package, I still paid for Netflix and bought content and I would have probably paid for music streaming had it been a thing back then. Ultimately I am not paying that much more than I used to for just the one service, I just spread it out across multiple things. This gets me what I really want and on all the devices I want it. Also the flexibility is great. I will often just add HBO or CBS for a couple months, binge and then turn it off. I have tried all the different streaming services and just switch back and forth depending on what we want or the deals available. No hardware or dealing with terrible customer service.

  2. skane2600

    This is one case where I'm glad I'm below average. I can't justify paying for more than one streaming service. Your budget may vary.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to skane2600:

      I'm with you on this until I remember that my Amazon Prime membership is technically also a streaming service that I just happened to never use. I'm curious how much Amazon Prime artificially inflates the video streaming service numbers because if asked I'd say I have one (Netflix) when I technically have two.

  3. asma1042

    Nice ! I am very glad to the Author. Thanks for your valuable information.

  4. hoomgar

    I'm good for 2.  Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  5. wright_is

    I just have Prime Video, because we have Prime. If I didn't have Prime, we wouldn't have Prime Video and wouldn't use any streaming service. I've thought about Netflix a few times, but I just don't watch enough TV to warrant paying extra for it. Even with PV, we probably watch a film a month on average.

    There aren't any series that I "must" see. I've tried watching some of the Prime Exclusives, but rarely get more than 2 -3 episodes in. The exceptions were Bosch and The Man in the High Castle, both of those I watched the first season, but never got past 1 or 2 episodes of the second season.

    We generally watch FTA channels on satellite, that is enough for our general consumption.

  6. Patrick3D

    Twitch has more than 45 million (average) daily viewers, that's more than any other digital platform except Youtube. Netflix, Amazon, HBO, etc... all pale in comparison. Personally, the only streaming service I pay (directly) for is PBS Passport. Instead of wasting money on Netflix, Cable, or any TV service I support content creators directly via Patreon or other monthly payment services. 3 on Twitch and 2 on Youtube, not to mention Thurrott.com Premium. Paul has mentioned watching House Hunters in the past, I simply watch Youtube playlists of real people building homes, having custom homes built, remodeling, etc..., not to mention uploads of House Hunters. ;)

    Twitch also has more than just gamers streaming on their platform. There's sketch comedy, cooking, travel, and more. All being streamed live by individuals doing the thing rather than actors pretending to do something (aside from actors doing their own thing of course.) There are also corporations streaming on Twitch like Rifftrax and ShoutFactory who stream cult classic movies. Twitch themselves run movie/TV content from time-to-time as well.

    I have an older brother and the only thing he subscribes to is Netflix. No cable/TV or other subscription service. He just uses ad-supported services for random content elsewhere. Yahoo, in particular, has The Orville for free w/ads, just limited to the most recent few episodes so you have to re-visit every week or two to see episodes before they cycle out. The only people I know that still subscribe to a traditional TV service are my parents (in their 70's.) They don't trust entering their credit card info on any website, at all.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to Patrick3D:

      I’m a Gen X’er. I subscribe to Hulu Live TV, Netflix, and Prime. Truthfully though, I only really watch Hulu, YouTube, and Twitch. I keep Netflix for the kids and Prime for the shipping. We do not have cable and we’re paying over $100 less than we were when we did have cable.

  7. Skolvikings

    Further confusing: When you look just at the middle-aged Gen X audience, the figure actually rises to 52 percent.


    Perhaps it's because Gen X'ers are both comfortable with technology and generally secure enough financially to afford both cable and a streaming service or two.


    Gaming usage is also up, big-time: One-third of U.S. consumers allegedly watch some form of e-sports each week, a figure that seems wildly inflated to me.


    Have you ever seen the viewer counts on Twitch? Or the view counts for game streamers on YouTube? There's also esports on cable TV. I'm in my 40s and watch Twitch several times per week. I can walk up to almost anyone in their 30s or younger and mention Ninja or TimTheTatMan, etc., and at least half will know who I'm talking about. This stat doesn't surprise me at all.

  8. Philly0381

    Then you have someone like myself, (which I am quite sure there are a lot of) who is retired and 70 years old who subscriber to five different streaming services. I also watch Windows Weekly on TWiT, does that also count? At my age I have had enough reality and just want to relax.

  9. Chris_Kez

    Those e-sports viewing numbers sound a little high to me.

    • Patrick3D

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Kids don't sit down in the living room and watch the latest sitcom with Mom & Dad, they take their tablets or phones to their rooms and each watch separate content related to their interests. Instead of a single viewer count like traditional TV, they are getting counted individually since there is no way they are going to watch the same thing with one another.

  10. sevenacids

    Voice? Orwell invades everything. :) Looking at these numbers is pretty frustating. They just tell me that more and more people are getting dissatisfied with the real life, the younger the more, so they escape to the virtual world, watch shows or play games instead of spending their time off-screen. Pretty concerning, IMO. But everybody seems to be fine because as long as they consume, the world keeps spinning. They just don't know what they really want and are "afraid of freedom", as Fromm would say.

    • skane2600

      In reply to sevenacids:

      What virtuous or character-building activities do you think young people should be doing instead of watching movies online or playing video games? When I was young there were no video games or internet, but I didn't spend my time doing calisthenics or feeding the poor.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to skane2600:

        I spent a ton of time playing Atari and then Nintendo as a kid, but since you asked I would say kids could play with Legos, mad libs, doodle or draw, write stories, all manner of board games, simple cooking stuff with a parent or older sibling, build a pillow fort, any kind of imaginative play; any kind of real-life interaction with peers where you develop your ability to read and respond to people's emotions and learn to negotiate, play fair, etc. Again, I spent a fair amount of time playing games, but as a parent I also see that my six year old gets more out of just about any real-world experience than she does watching TV or playing a game on the iPad.

        • skane2600

          In reply to Chris_Kez:

          But the question is are these other activities actually superior or do we just have a knee-jerk reaction against the Internet the way that in my youth people condemned TV and the way people condemned radio before that.

          • Greg Green

            In reply to skane2600:

            Yes, physical interaction with the real world is far better, after all it is how people will earn their living or get their asses handed to them. While a little entertainment is fine now and then recent generations have almost no curiosity about things, they’d rather be entertained than take something apart and put it back together again.

            • skane2600

              In reply to Greg Green:

              You mean kids surf the web or play video games by mind control? Last time I checked, they are performing those activities via "physical interaction with the real world". We are already seeing how the Internet is changing work and that trend is likely to continue. Old-timey skills and behavior are unlikely to be compatible with the future.


              You have no basis to make claims about what recent generations think. Even if you had anecdotal evidence to support your claim it would be negligible considering the vast numbers of people in a generation. To me these claims about younger generations are as valid as claiming every problem in the world is the fault every baby-boomer.

  11. rahulsahani430

    I'm good for 2. Thanks for your valuable information.

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