The number of Americans who stream TV content has slightly surpassed the number who watch live TV: 83% versus 81%, according to Attest’s 2021 U.S. Media Consumption survey, conducted among 2,000 U.S. adults in June.
Meanwhile, time spent watching TV is not only below 2020’s inflated pandemic levels, but significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
This year, just under 18% report watching five or more hours of live TV (9% between five and six hours and 9% more than six hours). That’s down from 30% in 2020 and 31% in 2019.
On the flip side, the number reporting that they watch less than one hour per week of live TV shot up to 22%, from 12% in 2020 and 11% in 2019. When those saying they watch no live TV at all are factored in, the number hit 41% this year — up from 26% in 2020 and 17% in 2019.
Fewer than a quarter — 21% each — now report watching three to four, and one to two, hours per day. That compares to 23% and 22%, respectively, in 2020, and 25% and 27% in 2019.
In all, 39%, on average, report watching three or more hours per day of live TV now.
Not surprisingly, boomers and Gen X are the heaviest live-TV watchers, with 54% and 44% respectively saying they watch three or more hours per day, compared to 35% of Millennials and 20% of Gen Z.
In comparison, the percentages reporting that they currently watch three or more hours of streamed TV per day are 20% for boomers, 29% for Gen X, 43% for Millennials and 44% for Gen Z.
Overall, the number of adults watching five or more hours of streamed content per day declined from 20% in 2019 and 26% in 2020, to 12% this year. The number watching one hour or less increased from under 30% in 2019 to about 40% in both 2020 and 2021. But those watching between one and four hours rose from about 40% in 2019 and 2020 to 50% this year.
A closer look at generational behaviors confirms that Gen Z watches the least live TV, with 29% saying they generally watch none, 32% watching less than an hour per day, and 20% between one and two hours.
Most stream for one to two or three to four hours per day — 29% each — and 15% watch at least five hours per day. Just 5% generally don’t watch any on-demand TV.
Fully 89% of Gen Zers use Netflix, followed by Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ (56%), 37% HBO Max (37%), Peacock (25%) and Paramount+ (16%).
Millennials watch considerably more live TV, with 56% watching at least an hour per day, 21% one to two hours, and 20% three to four hours.
In addition to the 43% who stream for three or more hours per day, 27% stream for one to two.
Three-quarters (74%) use Netflix, 60% Amazon Prime, 46% Disney+ and 45% HBO Max, but 29% say they don’t regularly use TV on-demand services.
In addition to the 44% who watch three-plus hours of live TV per day, Gen Xers are most likely to watch more than six hours (14%). And like boomers, 61% watch up to four hours per day.
They’re three times more likely than Millennials say they generally don’t watch any streamed TV (21%). Sixteen percent watch an hour or less, although 17% watch three to four.
Gen X is somewhat less reliant on Netflix (65%), with 54% and 30% respectively using Amazon Prime and Disney+, 27% Peacock and 24% HBO Max. Nearly half (48%) say they don’t regularly use TV on-demand services.
Among the 54% of boomers who watch three or more hours of live TV per day, 28% are at the three-to-four-hour level, and 26% at five or more hours.
More than a third (36%) say they generally don’t watch and streaming TV, and those who do are most likely to watch one to two hours per day (28%).
More than half (53%) use Netflix, followed by Amazon Prime (46%), Hulu Live (18%) and Disney+ 17%).