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Seven in 10 US consumers subscribe to at least one streaming video service, with a majority of streaming video viewers saying their viewing choices are influenced by either content they have seen in the past or by recommendations from family or friends. But while research by Nielsen finds that two-thirds (66%) of US streaming service users know exactly what they want to watch when they sit down to watch TV or a video, there are still individuals wanting to view content who have no idea what to watch before they start.

With so much video content available, consumers are not wanting for choice, yet just more than one-fifth (22%) of viewers don’t know what they want to watch at all prior to watching. So, how do these individuals find content? A small majority (58%) of streaming service subscribers frequently tune into their favorite channels when they don’t know exactly what they want to watch, while more than two-fifths (44%) scan through TV channels.

This channel-browsing might act as somewhat of a comfort to broadcasters of traditional TV channels, which are seeing declining viewership among younger consumers – especially those viewers in the age range of 18-34-years-old. In Q3 2018, Nielsen data shows that traditional TV viewing dropped 17.2% year-over-year for that age group.

Nielsen also found that 18-to-49-year-olds are most prone to not knowing what they want to watch. Considering that this is quite a large age group, there are differences within this range in how younger (18-34-year-olds) and older (35-49-year-olds) adults search for content to watch.

The older adults are more apt to keep within their comfort zone, with about two-thirds (63%) of respondents in that age group resorting to their favorite channels to search for something to watch, compared to 52% of 18-34-year-olds who do the same. On the other hand, younger adults are more open to exploration, whether by browsing menus on subscription services (45% vs 34% of older adults), watching recommendations from STB guides or subscription service menus (36% vs 28% of older adults), or just watching something different than usual (35% vs 25% of older adults).

Perhaps due to the routes they take to discover what to watch, younger adults spend one minute longer on average than older adults to choose what they want to watch (9.4 minutes vs. 8.4 minutes). And, while 30% of 18-49-year-olds that stream say they will stop watching content if they can’t find something that holds their interest, consumers are still finding streaming services Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video to be indispensable.

Further analysis from Nielsen can be read online here.

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