Did watching the latest Netflix series help you overcome the boredom of Seattle’s lockdown? Or maybe, like me, you’ve re-watched old episodes of “The Office” or some other show you’ve seen a few times.
At least you know that you are not alone.
New market research shows that in the Seattle area, TV streaming services enabled the escape we needed in the early days of the pandemic. The number of viewers on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu – the three most popular streaming services – rose sharply in the first half of 2020.
In nearly 1.2 million households in our market area – that’s more than half (53%) of the total number of households – people have seen something on Netflix at least once in the past seven days, according to the market research giant Nielsen. This is a 41% increase from 2019 when there were 823,000 households. Netflix is of course the No. 1 TV streaming service in the US
From February to August this year, Nielsen surveyed around 1,800 people in our region who recorded the beginnings of the pandemic. Around 2,000 people were surveyed in the same period in 2019.
The other top TV streaming services saw similar audience leaps. During the pandemic, Amazon Prime Video saw the number of households in the Seattle area that used the service at least once in the past week increased by 50%. And # 3 Hulu rose the fastest, rising 53%.
TV streaming services have severely impacted network television viewership and significant numbers of households rely solely on streaming. More than one in three households (37%) in the Seattle market have no cable or satellite television, according to Nielsen.
The number of streaming services has increased in recent years. These include Disney +, HBO Max, Sling TV, YouTubeTV, CBS All Access, Tubi, and many others. In total, nearly 1.4 million households (62% of the total) in the Seattle market have seen at least one subscription TV streaming service in the past seven days, according to Nielsen.
How do these households differ from the roughly 840,000 in our market where no one has seen a streaming service in the past seven days?
For starters, they are wealthier. Households in the Seattle market who have watched a streaming service have a median income of nearly $ 88,000, compared to about $ 57,000 for those who haven’t. The median net worth of a streaming household is also 32% higher than that of a non-streaming household.
It’s not too surprising. Of course, these services are not free. For a household struggling to make ends meet, as many did during the lockdown, a TV streaming subscription can be an unnecessary expense. A basic Netflix subscription is $ 8.99 per month and a Premium subscription is $ 17.99 per month.
People who use streaming services tend to be younger too, which is the case with many newer technologies. The median age of an adult in a streaming TV household in Seattle is 44 years, compared to the median age of 57 in a non-streaming household.
People who use streaming TV services in the Seattle market are also much more likely to graduate, be married, and have children under the age of 18 at home.
As people now start getting vaccinated against COVID-19, we all look forward to the end of these painful lockdowns. I would like to think if that happens it will be the end of my evenings as a couch potato, streaming shows I would normally never see if I’m not stuck at home.
But who knows? According to a national survey conducted by Morning Consult in April, more than half of adults in the US who recently signed up for TV streaming services predicted that they would see the same amount or more of them once they did Life normalized again.
Note on Nielsen data: The Seattle market area is larger than the Seattle subway area (King, Pierce, and Snohomish) and spans essentially the entire Puget Sound region.