Sports & Entertainment

Decoding Discovery: How Viewers Find and Watch Streaming Content

Ever wonder what really drives consumer choices when it’s time to kick back and catch up on TV? Where do they find streaming shows, what keeps them watching, and how do streaming companies and marketers get their attention?

Volume is a problem: as anyone with an internet connection and a love of TV knows. Catching up on just the recommendations of your close friends is impossible.

According to the latest Nielsen report, there are over 2 million streaming titles to choose from. And 20% of those polled said if they didn’t know what to watch during their allotted TV time, they’d give up and do something else. Catch up on their knitting, give their parrot a bath, etc. 

We’re dissecting the data on how users uncover and devour content, and looking into strategies that make streaming shows memorable and enticing enough to cut through the noise. When people sit down to watch TV, how do you guide them toward your content?

Consumers Love Streaming Choices

Guy sitting in front of a TV with tons of choices on screen

First, we’re going to examine how consumers are streaming, to figure out where to find them.

For viewers between 18 and 34 years old, a plurality (38%) said Netflix was their first stop1 for streaming content. Interestingly, that’s over three times more than those who picked traditional cable TV as their first choice in the same age group. That survey also showed that for those 55 and older, about half turned to pay TV first. 

When including all demographics, the #1 source of content discovery is still pay TV, with Netflix in second place. However, the difference between the two is shrinking every day,1 with predictions showing streaming will eclipse TV soon. 

Gen Z as a whole, however, spreads their viewing across multiple sources more often than their older counterparts: Disney+, Hulu, and Prime Video ranked higher2 for Gen Z than any other age group. 

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like consumers dislike having so many choices, just that the number of options complicates discovery. It turns out 43% of consumers polled3 claimed they enjoy having a ton of TV show options, and streaming watchers use an average of about 7 sources1 to find what they want to watch.

Together, these insights show us that while streaming watchers may generally start at Netflix when they’re craving content, they have to hit up multiple sources to find a show. It also shows us the discovery process is complicated, and the key is finding an advantage. 

Streaming TV Watchers are Sentimental

Two people sitting infront of a laptop, smiling

Two things guide consumers crawling through streaming platforms for something to watch: how easy it is to find shows, and how connected they are to the content, characters, and setting.

The relationship between ease of discovery and platform preference is clear. 61% of those polled said they were more likely to pick TV platforms3 where it’s easy to find new shows. In 2022, that number was only 56%, showing a steady, marked rise. 

Consumers are loyal and will subscribe based on a single show. 41% of the general populace4 said they have picked a streaming service to watch one series, while a staggering 57% of Gen Z and younger Millennials (ages 16-34) said the same. 

Modern TV watchers crave the familiar. Perhaps not a surprise considering how huge franchises and shared universes are, but content discovery becomes easier when streamers know something about the story. 

Nearly half of viewers claimed they’d be far more likely to watch a show based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe4, while 70% of the fans of the show Yellowstone said they watch or would watch shows set in the same world or created by the same producer.4  

Other shared universes and brands showed similar enthusiasm for discovery amongst viewers. But what does it all mean?!

Basically: viewers want a lot of choices, but paradoxically they want it to be easy to discover new shows. Viewers also crave a connection with the content before they try it, something that puts the show head-and-shoulders above other, unknown options. 

Create Memorable Ties in the Real World

Three women at a masquerade ball

Not all content is part of a shared universe or can sway a hesitant viewer with a familiar writer, director, or producer. “Be famous and/or well-loved” isn’t exactly actionable intel. But, that doesn’t mean new streaming content can’t create a connection before the title is even clicked.

Memorable connections happen in person: 75% of people attending an event said they had a more positive opinion about the products or brands they saw live. A different study showed that 86% ranked at least one emotional need as hugely important in their selection. 

Combine those two stats, and it becomes clear that real-world = emotional connection, and emotional connection = a higher chance of giving a show a shot. 

Streaming companies can make their content more discoverable by thinking outside of the app. A great example is Bridgerton’s “Queen’s Ball” event, where attendees could watch performers in Regency-era attire and manner perform a dance and social gathering right out of the show. 

Related: The Art of Emotion: Turning Trackable Data into Customer Connection – Inspira Marketing

With millions of titles to choose from, and viewers willing to walk away if they can’t find the right show, streaming marketers need to find more concrete ways to spark emotion and memory to keep their content top of mind.

For help with creating experiential marketing that captures hearts and minds, reach out to us by clicking the button below. 

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  1. Decoding the Default | Hub Research
  2. Gen Z’s Engagement with Social Media, Entertainment, Tech | Morning Consult
  3. Streaming Users Increasingly ‘Like’ Having Many Choices, Study Finds | Hub Research
  4. Evolution of Video Branding | Hub Research

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