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Americans Increase Streaming TV Viewing Habits

Over four in ten Americans say they regularly watch via streaming (43%) including two-thirds of Millennials (67%). Streaming seems to be slowly gaining ground on more traditional modes when it comes to the ways Americans most often watch television programs (though it’s in no danger of overtaking them in the immediate future).

Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) say they’re watching more online/streaming television programming now than they were a year ago, while 37% say their online/streaming viewership is no different than last year and 7% say they’re watching less this way now than a year ago. Looking ahead, nearly two in ten (18%) expect to be watching more online/streaming television programming a year from now while 4% expect to be watching less and half (50%) don’t anticipate a change.

Nearly four in ten Americans (38%) say they’ve subscribed to premium cable channels in order to watch specific shows, while one-fourth (24%) have subscribed to one or more streaming services for the same reason.

  • Looking specifically at streaming TV’s likely “core” constituents, half (50%) of those who list streaming among their top go-to’s for television shows say they’ve subscribed to streaming services for access to specific shows. Additionally…
    • Six in ten streaming-dominant viewers would like to be able to watch TV pilots and vote on what gets ordered as a full series (60%).
    • Four in ten (40%) would be willing to pay extra for a service that allowed them to stream current shows ad-free.
    • 37% would pay more for a streaming service that allowed them to temporarily download TV episodes, for when they’re away from an Internet connection.

Among those who regularly watch television shows via streaming, three-fourths (74%) use a computer to do so, while just over half (55%) use a television (whether via a set-top box, a game system or a television with integrated online capabilities).

  • Nearly four in ten (37%) watch on tablets, including more than six in ten tablet owners (63%).
  • Three in ten (30%) watch on smartphones, including just over four in ten smartphone owners (42%).

Distracted viewing continues to be the norm, with nearly eight in ten U.S. adults (78%) saying they’re ever doing other things while watching TV. More specifically, more than six in ten (63%) engage in online activities; over one-third (35%) text, three in ten (30%) read a book, magazine or newspaper, and 7% read a book on an electronic reading device. 22% say they do other things.

View the full Harris Poll report with charts here.

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