‘Paradox of choice' leads US viewers back to traditional TV | Media Analysis | Business
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Subscription video-on-demand is surging, especially in the US, but even with so much to choose from, indeed because of it, US streaming viewers are gravitating back towards traditional TV preferences when they’re not sure what to watch, says Nielsen data.
nielsen preference 2July2019
In its first-quarter Nielsen Total Audience Report, the measurement firm notes that one of the biggest challenges facing media consumers today is finding something to watch or listen to. It adds that viewers are spending a lot of time checking out previews, trailers, teasers, schedules and listings, and struggling to land on something that engages.

And due to this so called ‘paradox of choice’, Nielsen found that viewers were actually relying on traditional means like live scheduled programmes and DVR when they’re not sure what to watch.

Nielsen’s research found that in all, seven in 10 homes have an SVOD service and 72% use streaming-capable TV devices, putting the onus on streaming services to keep users engaged with the content on their increasingly accessible platforms. On all of the occasions they stream TV or video, almost two-thirds of adults who stream video content are likely to watch when know exactly what they want. A third will watch when they have a rough idea, and only 22% watch when they don’t know what they want before diving into the options.

One of the trends that Nielsen said was notably interesting was that video streamers were frequent ‘go-backers’: they like what they know and are comfortable with. In practical terms this meant that 58% say that they go back to their favourite traditional channels; 44% like to scan through traditional channel options; 39% scan the programme listings and 31% browse their DVR recordings. Comparatively, far fewer SVOD users scan their subscription content menus. Only a third of adult respondents say they browse their SVOD content menus for more content, while 21% say they would simply not watch anymore content altogether.

Looking at how long people dwell on their content options, Nielsen found that on average, a notable 9.4 minutes was reported for adults 18-34 and 8.4 minutes for adults 35-49 who stream. Think about how much more engagement content providers and platforms could achieve if they took out the guesswork. And if they did that, they’d have better retention rates. That was, said Nielsen, because nearly 30% of streaming adults 18-49 said they sometimes stop watching content if they can’t find something appealing.

This all meant said Nielsen in its research was that while being inundated by choice was not particularly new to the world of content, SVOD content creators, programmers, platforms and marketers do have some work to do in terms of giving viewers what they’re looking for. It advised that refining recommendations and creating menus and user experiences to better suit user tastes might be their best way to combat it.