Commentary

Yes, Some Streaming Viewers Binge; Others Think They're at a Tapas Joint

 It’s been awhile now that people, including myself, began using modern shorthand to “say” words or finish statements.  Whatever became whatev, and details to a story, thanks to “Seinfeld” and the times, became “yada yada yada.” Now, if details are necessary, those are deets and messaging has given us a world of stupid initials to say other popular phrases.

 It is annoying to the max. I mean maximum.

So it’s not surprising that the Harris Poll has new data that purports to show how much time people who watch subscription streaming videos will give the film (or whatev) to develop before pulling the plug.

I don’t know if the results are a surprise.  It’s not much time.

According to Harris, over a third of Americans (35%) say they sometimes watch streaming video through a subscription service (like HuluPlus or Netflix) and 12% say they rarely do.

From that group, 24% say that when they watch, they just “dip their foot in,” (which is how Harris phrased it to mean they just watch a bit), and then go away if they don’t like it. Another 32% “quarterstream” and 11% “halfstream,” indicating they’ll watch content a quarter or half way through before giving up (or “returning to shore and reapplying sunscreen—my phrase).

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So altogether, that means 56% won’t give a film more than 15 minutes, if the average film is two hours long.    

On the other hand, Harris says the largest bunch--33% go “full stream ahead”-- which means (I’m sure within the realm of some shred of logic) that they will watch streamed content from start to finish even if somewhere during that journey they’ve decided they don’t like it.  In my imagination, these are people watching films that won something at some film festival. You’ve-got-to-see-this-movie is such a trick bag.    

But really, the respondents sound like other viewers of all kinds of video, who will give only a few moments before abandoning what they’re watching.

Online advertisers know they only get a split second; online video providers know they get just a second or two for that video to develop before a viewer will go elsewhere. Television has lived with the quick hook for its entire existence.

It appears Harris gave respondents some dandy new ways to explain themselves, by giving them agree/disagree statements with built-in catch-phrases. So, for example, Harris is reporting “two in ten (20%) think they might have ‘SADD - Streaming Attention Deficit Disorder,’” when, most likely, 100% of them had never heard the term before.  Presumably, SADD means they don’t stick around too long for anything being streamed.  

According to this survey 59% believe “checking out the beginnings of several videos” is “the new channel surfing,” though Harris gave them that phrase, too, and unless you and I begin using it (again), there’s a pretty good chance it could die right here.

Harris also reports, 32% will watch just about anything on their subscription streaming service, which connects pretty neatly with the 33% above who say they’ll watch video start to finish even if they don’t like the content.

For whatever reason, Harris also tabulated these results according to political parties. According to Harris, Republicans (68%), far more than Democrats (49%) , are more likely to give up on videos after the first few seconds, or just a quarter of the way in. Democrats (38%) more than Republicans (22%) are more likely to commit to “full stream ahead.”

This political stuff means nothing, I don’t think, except perhaps that it reflects that many movies (my opinion) have more liberal attitudes than conservative attitudes, and that it just takes a staunch Republican a little while to discern that the movie/TV show they’re watching doesn’t reflect their views on a lot of subjects. There are no atheists in a foxhole. And there are no Republicans at an Aaron Sorkin film fest.

pj@mediapost.com

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