“Streamrollin” – Channel-Surfing in the Age of Streaming Media

New York , N.Y. – August 26, 2013 – Streaming continues to be a major trend in Americans’ constantly evolving television viewership habits. A 2012 Harris Poll found that a majority of Americans had watched TV shows via this method, and other polls since have explored its use as a way to watch programming on one’s own schedule and the role of sports viewers as the rare exception to increasing reliance on streaming and other delayed viewership options.

But looking specifically at those watching videos through subscription services, what are viewing habits looking like inside the stream? Does the vast amount of content encourage subscribers to pick and choose? And does the rise of streaming mean the fall of channel surfing?

These are some of the questions The Harris Poll set out to answer, in a study of 2,242 U.S. adults surveyed online between July 17 and 22, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

Are Subscription Streamers Sticking with their Selections?

Over a third of Americans (35%) qualify as subscription streamers, indicating that they sometimes or often watch streaming videos through a subscription service; an additional 12% say they rarely do so.

The majority of subscription streamers (56%) indicate that when watching streaming video through a subscription service, they either dip their foot in (meaning they give it a few minutes to catch their interest – 24%) or quarterstream (meaning they give it until about a quarter of the way through to do so – 32%). An additional 11% give it until midstream (or about halfway through), while one-third (33%) go full stream ahead (committing, once they start, to watching the whole thing).

When asked to reflect on their viewing habits by agreeing or disagreeing with a series of statements, seven in ten subscription streamers (70%) fess up to being very picky about what they watch through a subscription streaming service. Majorities also agree that checking out the beginnings of several videos on such a service is the new channel surfing (59%) and that when streaming through a subscription service, a video needs to wow them quick or they’ll find something else (56%). One-third (32%) will watch just about anything on such a service, and two in ten (20%) think they might have SADD – Streaming Attention Deficit Disorder.

Yes we can… watch this movie all the way through

Interestingly, Republicans appear to have commitment issues when it comes to such viewing activities, while Democrats are more likely to be in it for the long haul – or at least, as long as this video. Republicans are significantly more likely to say they either give videos on subscription streaming services only a few minutes or only about a quarter of the way in to catch their interest (68% Republicans, 49% Democrats), while Democrats are more likely than their political rivals to commit to going full stream ahead (38% Democrats, 22% Republicans).

Republicans are also significantly more likely to agree that they are picky about what they watch through a subscription streaming service (80% Republicans, 63% Democrats) and slightly more likely to agree that when streaming through such a service, a video needs to wow them quick or they’ll find something else (65% Republicans, 53% Democrats).

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TABLE 1a

STREAMING VIEWERSHIP & MAGAZINE PURCHASES

Grid Summary

How often, if ever, do you do each of the following?

Base: U.S. adults

 

Often + Sometimes (NET)

Often

Sometimes

Rarely + Never (NET)

Rarely

Never

%

%

%

%

%

%

Watch streaming video through a subscription service (e.g., Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime)

35

20

15

65

12

53

Buy a magazine at place of purchase (e.g., newsstand, bookstore)

23

5

18

77

35

42

Purchase or rent streaming videos (e.g., iTunes, Amazon Instant Video Store)

19

4

15

81

19

62

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 1b

STREAMING VIEWERSHIP & MAGAZINE PURCHASES

Summary of Often + Sometimes (NET) – by Age

How often, if ever, do you do each of the following?

Base: U.S. adults

 

Total

Generation

Echo Boomers

(18-35)

Gen X (36-47)

Baby Boomers (48-66)

Matures (67+)

%

%

%

%

%

Watch streaming video through a subscription service (e.g., Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime)

35

55

43

25

11

Buy a magazine at place of purchase (e.g., newsstand, bookstore)

23

23

25

25

16

Purchase or rent streaming videos (e.g., iTunes, Amazon Instant Video Store)

19

28

27

12

3


TABLE 2

HOW FAR IN WATCH VIDEOS ON SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER TO CONTINUE

By Political Affiliation

When watching streaming video through a subscription service, how long do you typically watch something new before deciding whether to stop or continue watching?

Base: Sometimes or often watch streaming video through a subscription service

 

Total

Political Affiliation

Republicans

Democrats

Independents

%

%

%

%

A few minutes + About a quarter of the way (NET)

56

68

49

56

Dip my foot in – I give it a few minutes to catch my interest

24

29

22

24

Quarterstream – I give it until about a quarter of the way in to catch my interest

32

39

27

33

About to the halfway point + Commit to watching the whole thing (NET

44

32

51

44

Midstream – I give it until about the halfway point to catch my interest

11

10

13

10

Full stream ahead – I commit to watching the whole thing

33

22

38

34

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

HOW FAR IN WATCH PURCHASED OR RENTED STREAMING VIDEOS BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER TO CONTINUE

When watching streaming videos you purchased or rented, how long do you typically watch something new before deciding whether to stop or continue watching?

Base: Sometimes or often purchase or rent streaming videos

 

Total

%

A few minutes + About a quarter of the way (NET)

38

Dip my foot in – I give it a few minutes to catch my interest

19

Quarterstream – I give it until about a quarter of the way in to catch my interest

18

About to the halfway point + Commit to watching the whole thing (NET)

62

Midstream – I give it until about the halfway point to catch my interest

15

Full stream ahead – I commit to watching the whole thing

47

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4

BROWSE THROUGH MAGAZINES WHEN PURCHASING

When buying a magazine, do you browse through it before purchasing?

Base: Sometimes or often buy magazines at place of purchase

 

Total

%

Yes (NET)

92

Yes, sometimes

51

Yes, often

24

Yes, rarely

16

No, never

8

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 5a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH STREAMING STATEMENTS

Grid Summary

Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Base: Sometimes or often watch streaming video through a subscription service

 

Strongly + Somewhat Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Somewhat + Strongly Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

I’m very picky about what I watch through a subscription streaming service.

70

24

47

30

21

8

Checking out the beginnings of several videos on a subscription streaming service is the new channel surfing.

59

13

47

41

26

14

When streaming through a subscription service, a video needs to wow me quick or I’ll find something else.

56

13

44

44

30

14

I’ll watch just about anything on a subscription streaming service.

32

8

24

68

31

36

I think I might have SADD (Streaming Attention Deficit Disorder).

20

5

15

80

21

60

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 5a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH STREAMING STATEMENTS

Summary of Strongly Agree + Somewhat Agree (NET) – by Political Affiliation

Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Base: Sometimes or often watch streaming video through a subscription service

 

Total

Political Affiliation

Republicans

Democrats

Independents

%

%

%

%

I’m very picky about what I watch through a subscription streaming service.

70

80

63

70

Checking out the beginnings of several videos on a subscription streaming service is the new channel surfing.

59

60

60

58

When streaming through a subscription service, a video needs to wow me quick or I’ll find something else.

56

65

53

58

I’ll watch just about anything on a subscription streaming service.

32

30

35

33

I think I might have SADD (Streaming Attention Deficit Disorder).

20

19

20

20

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 17 and 22, 2013 among 2,242 adults (aged 18 and over), among whom 587 sometimes or often watch streaming video through a subscription service. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll #55, August 26, 2013

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.