The State of Streaming in 2023

The State of Streaming in 2023

Tue, Mar 16, 2021 10:53 PM

TV Cable

In 2022, streaming TV preferences shifted drastically, due in part (if not entirely) to everyone being trapped inside during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you want to read the news or rerun The Office for the 112th time? It was much easier to make the decision than to walk on a George Foreman Grill.

We asked 1,000 people to see if their television viewing preferences improved or stayed the same in 2020. The most important takeaway: While more people are streaming than ever before, cable and satellite TV are still holding on like Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin—don't write them off just yet.

Streaming services stacking up

In 2021, 68.2 percent of those we polled intend to add at least one new streaming service. Despite shaky rollouts and initial availability on famous platforms Roku and Amazon Fire TV, HBO Max and Peacock were the most high-profile streaming debuts.

Behind Disney+ (#3), Hulu (#2), and Netflix (#1), HBO Max even made it into our Top 4 favorite streaming services. While Wonder Woman 1984 is most likely to blame for HBO Max's late-2020 spike, we prefer to believe it's the service's Looney Tunes album.

The majority of the people we polled had access to four different streaming services, with Netflix being the most common, followed by Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+. More interestingly, more than half of our respondents admitted to using at least two free streaming services through password sharing, such as "I'll trade you a Peacock for a Crunchyroll."

The shows and movies that are actually being streamed

Not surprisingly, comedy dominated our streaming statistics, with 63.2 percent of viewers claiming that funny movies and TV shows, as well as 17.6 percent claiming that "sitcoms," helped them get through 2021. Schitt's Creek and Tiger King were the most popular streaming shows among respondents (which is a comedy . . .of sorts).

The new season of The Bachelor was the most awaited show in 2021, according to 21.2 percent of those polled, followed by HBO Max's forthcoming Gossip Girl reboot. WandaVision, Disney+'s buzz-generating function, scored just 11.8 percent in our poll, but we're guessing it's way up now.

Binge-watching habits

Despite some streaming services' trad-TV tradition of releasing new episodes regularly rather than in batches (we're looking at you, HBO Max, and Disney+), binge-watching is still a thing. According to our poll, 74.6 percent of viewers choose to watch their shows on their own time.

However, recording live TV streaming series with a cloud DVR earned few responses in a  2020 consumer satisfaction survey. Viewers enjoy binge-watching but aren't interested in accumulating weekly shows for a DVR binge? TV Country, you do you.

Our respondents enjoy their comfort-food shows as well, with the majority preferring multi-season old classics to new series. When asked, "What's one show you can't get enough of?" shows like The Office, Friends, Supernatural, Breaking Bad, and Shameless were at the top of the list. It makes sense; with so many episodes available, you could easily spend an entire weekend with old friends, let alone Friends.

Streaming TV joins cable and satellite TV.

Cable and satellite companies aren't sitting on the sidelines of the streaming revolution; they're actively participating.

While not everyone likes conventional television, no one can imagine living in 2021 without access to the internet. Most major cable and satellite providers now have their own proprietary streaming devices and apps to meet internet demand while slipping their TV services into the network: Xfinity, DIRECTV, Cox, DISH, Spectrum, and most other major cable and satellite providers now have their own proprietary streaming devices and apps to meet internet demand while slipping their TV services into the stream.

For internet-only users, Xfinity's Flex device is free, and it gives them access to (ad-supported) on-demand TV shows and movies, as well as favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, and others. Choice TV from Spectrum and Contour TV from Cox works in a similar way.

AT&T's sole online TV service is now AT&T TV after the company shut down AT&T TV NOW and AT&T U-Verse, putting an end to years of uncertainty and alphabetical violence. The twist is that AT&T TV comes with a set-top box, DIRECTV-style channel lineups, and a two-year deal, much like satellite TV. Verizon Fios TV also operates more like a conventional television set than a live TV streaming service.

Moving away from computers, cable and satellite companies have entered the world of streaming apps, with mixed results. With iOS and Android mobile viewers, Xfinity Stream, Spectrum TV, and Verizon Fios TV have earned above-four-star scores, but the Cox, Suddenlink Altice One, and Optimum TV apps are near the bottom of the rankings.

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