Live Viewership May Be Down, but TV Content Is Still the Main Thing People Are Streaming

Report says millennials watch it more than originals

Hulu and Netflix have become the cereal aisle of streaming services. There are thousands of options for thousands of different tastes. And with the influx of original content available, advertisers are worried how that will affect sales for more traditional TV shows.

According to a report by Nielsen, viewers are still moving away from TV but not quite as sharply as they used to.

According to this VAB report, which aims to address the relationship between streaming, TV and advertisers, just 6 percent of the U.S. population does 87 percent of the streaming.

 

So, only a small part of the cereal aisle is actually busy.

Additionally, more than half of Hulu users (67 percent) choose network TV shows to stream, and 44 percent of Netflix users head for its TV library as well.

People who stream, in other words, are usually streaming TV programs. Fewer people may be spending time on linear TV (i.e., watching it live as it airs for the first time on network television or watching it soon after via DVR), but 74 percent of that drop-off can be attributed to people actually streaming those TV programs.

 

Though Netflix recently said it would like to be at 50 percent original content and 50 percent "licensed TV shows and movies," according to Variety, its programming split in 2014 was 91 percent licensed and just 9 percent original content.

Perhaps TV advertisers don't have to be as concerned with streaming services as they once thought. The VAB says ad-supported TV reach has "remained stable despite streaming growth." That means ad companies and agencies feeling overwhelmed by all the small-scale, mini streaming services don't have to be quite so panicky. 

"TV is still the medium with the largest scale and time commitment," said Danielle DeLauro, svp of strategic sales insights for VAB. Yes, people are spending less time with linear and time-shifted TV, but that shouldn't necessarily scare advertisers.

People are mostly just trying to find TV content wherever they can find it. Think about it: If you missed an episode of a TV show you were really looking forward to watching (perhaps This Is Us on NBC, which had a viral trailer this summer), you'll probably use your Hulu subscription to catch up on that episode, DeLauro explained.

There's a symbiotic relationship between TV and streaming. Just because people are watching an Amazon original show doesn't mean they're not also keeping up with the latest slate of NBC comedies.

The heaviest of streamers, according to VAB, can watch up to four hours of TV programming and only 22 minutes of streaming content.

"It's not an and/or situation," DeLauro said. "It's how they work together."

You can see the full report from the VAB here.