Nielsen’s Latest Consumer Report Tackles ‘Streaming Pitfalls’


Nielsen‘s Total Audience Report for Q1 2019 has been released by the nation’s dominant audience measurement and consumer data provider, and Nielsen is touting that — for the first time — it includes insights surrounding content discovery on streaming platforms and “the potential pitfalls these players face.”

The report also showcases new data into the streaming and media-related landscape that are particularly topical at the moment.

Specifically, the report dives into what streaming users do and where they go when they don’t know what to watch.

As an example, Nielsen offers the following scenario:

Ever spend 10 minutes scrolling through a Netflix menu looking for something new, only to end up rewatching the same episodes of “The Office” for the umpteenth time? You’re not alone. 

“Massive content libraries from multiple platforms can leave the consumer dizzy,” Nielsen notes. “The algorithms designed to suggest content they like might not resonate. Despite streaming platforms and their growing ubiquity, they still have some ways to go in finding ways to keep their subscribers tuned in.”

While Nielsen makes much of its profits from the measurement of broadcast television and radio, thus suggesting a desire to provide data that puts these “old media” in a favorable light, the topic is indeed a critical one for digital media.

This week alone, Netflix is anticipating a huge user surge with the July 4 debut of Season Three of sci-fi series Stranger Things; unbeknownst to many, Season Two of its No. 2 most-popular foreign language series, sci-fi drama Dark, is already available.

“What do you do when you don’t know what to choose?” Nielsen asks. “For streamers, while streaming platform menus and suggested titles are available, they’re more likely to find refuge in their favorite TV channels.”

Nielsen SVP/Audience Insights Peter Katsingris oversees the Total Audience Report‘s creation.

Among the findings he and his team gathered:

  • 58% of users said they were more likely to go back to their favorite traditional channels if they didn’t know what to watch.

  • Only one-third of adult respondents say they browse their subscription video on demand (SVOD) content menus for more content, while 21% say they would simply not watch anymore content altogether if they couldn’t choose.

Additionally, U.S. adults have a large overall cross-media diet — 11 hours and 27 minutes per day interacting with media, to be exact.

“That’s 21 minutes of additional media exposure across all platforms from first-quarter 2018,” Nielsen says.

That’s because, as we all know, newer platforms are making an impact. And, it is cutting into the average time per spent on radio and TV each day.

  • Video viewing through TV-connected devices has increased by 8 minutes daily. As consumers replace old TV sets with TV screens pre-loaded with

  • connected options, they’re leaning into smart lifestyles.

Furthermore, seven in 10 homes now have a SVOD service and 72% use streaming-capable TV devices.

Meanwhile, here’s perhaps the biggest takeaway for broadcast media, suggesting that they further their efforts to get audio and video streaming of their content top-of-mind with consumers.

Adults 18-34 spend over half of their daily media usage with digital media such as computers, smartphones, and tablets.

“Content discovery, be it through the streaming menu algorithms that serve up options based on your prior choices, network promos for new shows, playlist feeds from digital music apps, or even friends’ recommendations is crucial to consumers in an era when they’re inundated with ads and content,” Katsingris writes. “Conversely, these same consumers are connecting to this fragmented content at unparalleled rates—well over 11 hours each day across screens and devices. So it’s never been more critical for content owners and marketers to cut through the clutter, and maybe even spur some disloyalty, to ensure that their offerings stand out from everything else.”


The greatest growth in overall time spent with media came from adults 18-34, who spent an additional 31 minutes per day across all media than the year prior. They also spend
one hour and 22 minutes on TV-connected devices, more than any other age group.

However, Nielsen notes that Adults 50-64 still spend more time on media than any other group, at 12 hours and 51 minutes per day. This group spends the most time on computers, tablets … and radio.

Katsingris believes this is “perhaps a sign of an increasing sedentary lifestyle,” and why it is important for marketers to keep an eye on older demos. “As U.S. adults are spending more time in the workforce than prior generations … this could impact both their discretionary income as well as the time they have to spend on media as a consumer group,” he notes.

The latest Total Audience Report reinforces Radio as a “good bet” given its reach, as well as that of over-the-air television.