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As internet-connected devices proliferate and streaming services grow in popularity, it’s easy to assume that TV viewing has become an individual pastime. But the reality is that just about half (48%) of TV or video total viewing time in the US is still done in groups – and this may even be growing as a social activity. Findings from new GfK research [infographic] stemming from 24,000 interviews reveals that 49% of all American adults say they co-view more often than they did three years ago.

When Americans are co-viewing, they’re fairly evenly split between doing so most on streaming services (52%) – such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu – and traditional television services (48%), including cable and satellite services.

Younger adults (18-34 years old), somewhat unsurprisingly, are more likely to co-view mostly on streaming services. A full 72% of younger adults mostly spend their co-viewing time with streaming services, versus the remaining 28% who prefer traditional TV as their medium of choice to view with others.

So, who are Americans co-viewing with? It turns out that nearly six-tenths (58%) of their time is spent co-viewing with their significant other. Another 19% of co-viewing is done with children, while the remaining is with adult family members (16%) or friends (9%).

While huddling around a smartphone or even a computer screen might be okay with a significant other, it isn’t necessarily conducive to viewing with others. So, despite having a range of screens to view on, 93% of viewers still prefer to co-view on a television.

What individuals are watching when co-viewing depends on who respondents are viewing with. Movies are the top genre of choice when viewing with a significant other, friends, or adult family members. When viewing with children, the top genre was children’s TV. Comedy TV also ranks high for co-viewing, coming in second or third depending on who was also viewing.

Here are some other highlights of note from the research:

  • Men are more likely to be solo viewers.
  • Parents are more likely than average to be co-viewers.
  • Two in 5 adults who watch with friends want to discuss the show with each other.
  • The top three reasons for co-viewing are to spend time with others, watch the same show, and share the experience.

About the Data: MRI’s Cord Evolution research is based on 24,000 in-person, in-home interviews in MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®, asking about cord intentions. Cord Evolution research tracks levels of “cord disruption” (who is cutting, who is increasing) among 10 unique viewing groups, revealing the impact of new digital offerings on traditional cord subscriptions and linear behavior.

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