"Streamrollin'" - Channel-Surfing in the Age of Streaming Media

Only one-third of streamers can actually make the commitment to a show

Aug 26, 2013, 13:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Aug. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- "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.

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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 June 17 and 22, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables, can be found here)

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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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.

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SOURCE Harris Interactive