New data from a Nielsen report analyzing the state of streaming entertainment has confirmed what many of us have been feeling for quite a while: There are simply too many streaming services and choices of content out there, and it’s left the average consumer feeling overwhelmed by a surplus of options. Almost half of all users surveyed by Nielsen said that they felt overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of programming currently available on U.S. streaming services. Notably, however, and perhaps most relevant to our unique brand of American anxiety and malaise, they also overwhelmingly said that despite feeling overwhelmed, they had no plans to cut back on either streaming services or how much streaming content they’re consuming. Because there’s nothing more American than identifying a problem, and then refusing to fix it.
The Nielsen report, titled State of Play, relies on data from Nielsen’s proprietary data and its ongoing survey of its users, assessing how they’re currently feeling about the streaming landscape. Some 46% of viewers in the survey said they felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of different platforms and titles that were available to them.
And indeed, the numbers involved have skyrocketed in recent years. Nielsen estimated that as of February, there were roughly 817,000 different unique programs (movies, series, specials, etc.) available via streamers in the U.S., which was a 26.5% increase since the beginning of 2020. Likewise, the literal amount of content that we’re consuming has also continued to balloon in the same period—Americans consumed 169.4 billion minutes of content from streaming services in February, which was a stark 18% rise from February of 2021. There seems to be a pretty clear correlation between the amount of content available, and the amount of content consumed.
However, even those consumers who feel like there’s too much content aren’t likely to say they plan to cut back on how many services they’re paying for, which makes one wonder how sincere their feeling of being “overwhelmed” truly is. A huge 93% of respondents to Nielsen’s survey said they planned to either keep the streaming services they had or add more over the course of the next year, indicating that for the vast majority of consumers, the glut of content isn’t enough to make them feel like they can pare down which services they’re paying for. In fact, the average consumer is more like than ever to subscribe to four or more streaming services, as that percentage has risen from merely 7% three years ago, to 18% now.
One potential feature that most consumers agree they’d be interested in, though, is the ability to bundle streaming services as a means of potentially saving money. How such a bundle would actually work remains to be seen, but 64% of those viewers surveyed by Nielsen said they would be interested in a bundled service that combines multiple streamers, as long as they’re able to choose which streaming services they want in said bundle.