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Nearly Half of Global Viewers Added a Streaming Service Since March, Limelight Says

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Hot on the heels of the Bitmovin report about the impact of COVID-19 on the video developer ecosystem, Limelight Networks has released its consumer-focused State of Online Video 2020 report, which shows the impact of the pandemic on consumer online video consumption.

The company has highlighted several key findings, but two stood out as indicative of the powerful impact that the pandemic has had on consumer streaming media consumption patterns.

The first was the fact that the first half of 2020 saw nearly half of global viewers subscribing to at least one additional streaming service during the lockdown period.

"Over 53 percent of viewers in France have subscribed to new streaming services," the report states, noting that it was the highest of the European countries surveyed, although respondents from India and Indonesia were even higher, at 69.85 and 71.6% respectively.

In the United States, 45.3% of respondents said they’d subscribed to additional streaming services in the past six months, which corresponds not only to the pandemic timeframe but also to the launch windows for HBO, Peacock and key Disney+ content (just after the first season of The Mandalorian ended and during the period when Hamilton was released). 

In addition to the global trend towards new streaming services, there was a marked increase in streaming subscriptions among 18- to 35-year-olds, with a breakeven point in the 36 to 45 age group [see image at top of article]. 

In other words, there's a greater propensity in the younger age group to try new services, but the second statistic that caught our attention seems almost contradictory: "While online video consumption has increased across all age groups, adoption has accelerated in older demographics, where the largest increases are seen in people over 46 years old." 

Limelight compared online video consumption patterns from 2019 (pre-pandemic) to 2020 viewing. For the 46 to 60 age bracket, the average hours per week rose from 5.8 hours per week in 2019 to 7.0 hours in 2020, an increase of 21 percent; but for those 61 and older, the percentage increase jumped 42% from 5.3 hours per week to 7.5 hours [see chart below]. 

Limelight chart 2

And, while those hours included traditional broadcast as well as online viewing, 2020 online hours matched or exceeded traditional broadcast hours in every country in the Limelight survey except for Germany. South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Overall, 2020 also marks the first year in which online video hours globally exceeded traditional broadcast viewing. The online video consumption adoption rate, interestingly, was lower in North America, but that could be due to the fact that older viewers tend to "watch more traditional broadcast television than younger ones, with those age 61 and older watching at least an hour more [broadcast television] per week than those 18-35."

What appears to tie the two findings—an increase in new subscriptions to streaming services for younger viewers, alongside with an increase in overall video consumption in older viewers—is the fact that, while online viewing increased across the board, it increased markedly faster in the 18 to 35 age group, with 18- to 25-year-olds watching almost 50% more online video hours than broadcast video, and 26- to 35-year-olds watching 20% more online compared to traditional broadcast hours.

While this isn't yet a definitive trend, it’s worth noting that the correlation appears to be fairly consistent: Watching more online video hours leads to a higher likelihood of subscribing to multiple streaming services. 

And, given the fact that older respondents watch almost as many overall video hours as younger respondents, an acceleration of media consumption towards online viewing may very well trend towards an uptick in multiple streaming service subscriptions for viewers that are 61 years old or older. 

See the full report here.

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