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  • Ofer Zeevy

Viewing stickiness is the new tv measurement, but qualitative data counts too

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Competition over our free time keeps getting tougher by the day. Weekday evenings, and of course weekends, always pause many choices for all of us. Read a book? Watch Netflix? Go out to watch a movie or eat at a restaurant? Stay at home, go over social media feeds or listen to music? The list is endless.

What is apparent is that the “free time industry” is fiercely competing over our time and money.

Person eating popcorn while watching TV.

Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder, and chairman made a key comment in 2019 about exactly that, discussing how subscriber numbers are less important while viewing time is what truly counts. Speaking at a New York conference, he stressed that “time will be the real competition…So the real measurement will be time-how do consumers vote with their evenings?”

There will come a time when streaming services will not be able to grow their subscriber base the way they are doing now. The only factor that matters to companies and their shareholders would be how much time the viewer spends in front of the streaming service. That is also why Netflix said that Fortnite is bigger competition than HBO or Hulu and why stickiness is no longer a term used only by video games companies.

Fighting over the customers' free time is noticeable with the slew of new movies and series that are coming out for all of the streaming services. This is apparent when examining the 5 streaming trends to look out for in 2022 or when noticing how HBO Max promises to fight Netflix and Disney+ overproductions.

One of the interesting tricks all of these mega-companies are employing has to deal with the length of films produced. In recent years, the average movie length has increased greatly. The reason: all of these movies would one day end up at one of the streaming services and the longer they are, the greater the chance that viewers will stick with them until the end credits. Gone are the days of the hour-and-a-half movie. While the 2001 first “Fast and the Furious” movie lasted only 1:46 hours, the franchise's 9th movie from 2021 lasted 2:25 hours. “Matrix 4” and the new “Spiderman: No way home” took 2:28 hours each to watch. “Dune” took 2:35 hours from start to finish, almost as “House Of Gucci” with 2:38. “Avengers: Endgame” from 2019, the highest-grossing film of all time, with $2.8 billion in worldwide revenues, clocked at 3:02 hours.

The same is true for series, many series, and documentaries. They all include multiple episodes, which are usually available to watch in binges, and therefore serve the purpose of causing the viewer to stick inside the streaming service for hours on end. And new materials are released on a monthly basis, offering viewers multiple content pieces from which to choose.

A 2021 Nielsen study found out that 26% of all television viewing time is spent on streaming services while the majority of Americans still watch network and cable television with 64%. The rest of the 10% watch Video on demand, DVDs but also play video games. And while, according to this data, gaming does not pose a threat to regular television viewing, when compared with the time spent on it and the huge increase in the number of players worldwide, Netflix CEO comments about video games being their true entertainment stickiness competition is better understood.

What is needed is a further deep-dive and continuous study of viewing habits and tastes. For all companies fighting over our free time, Affogata delivers real-time tracking and monitoring of online customer feedback from multiple platforms and websites. The AI analyses the millions of conversations online for more structured data with actionable insights. Once the quantitative data of viewing stickiness is backed up by the qualitative analysis of what customers say, companies receive a fuller and deeper understanding of what viewers want and what type of content would contribute to causing them to spend more time with the service.

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