1 MAR 2024

USA: Consumers will engage more with media in 2024

Although digital is the main driving force generating most of the growth, linear TV is decreasing at a lower rate than expected.

1 MAR 2024

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US time spent with the media will inch up 0.9% in 2024 to 12 hours and 39 minutes (12:39), according to Insider Intelligence’s February 2024 forecast. Growth is coming from digital. Time spent with digital video, in particular, will be up 5.7% this year to total 3 hours and 50 minutes (3:50). Time spent with linear TV will be down 3.7% from 2023, totaling 2 hours and 55 minutes (2:55). That means TV advertisers should be focusing on digital formats, but they should not abandon linear completely.

Subscription OTT video is becoming a more significant part of people’s media diet. High use of platforms like Netflix and Hulu is contributing to the 1 hour and 49 minutes (1:49) that people will spend watching subscription OTT this year. Both of those platforms now have ads, as do other large players like Amazon Prime Video, Max, and Disney+.

“These platforms are intensifying the efforts to attract more users into their platform with their original content or exclusive content,” said Insider Intelligence’s forecasting analyst Jasmin Ellis.

Netflix will have a particularly strong showing this year. Its 173.7 million US viewers will average an hour and three minutes (1:03) per day on the platform this year, per our September 2023 and February 2024 forecasts. Despite an increasingly crowded field, Netflix is the subscription OTT platform to beat regarding viewership and time spent. That’s one of the reasons its password-sharing crackdown was so effective in driving new signups last year.

“If other platforms were to do the same and not come out with more affordable options, it would be a lot harder to be successful,” said Ellis. Disney+ and Hulu are reportedly planning to crack down on password-sharing this year, and they may run into trouble with consumers who don’t see the platforms as need-to-have.

Netflix has also been smart about not overloading viewers with ads on its cheaper tier. Ad loads are still short right now compared to linear TV, and binge-watchers get an ad-free episode after every few episodes. But if Netflix and other platforms boost ad loads to increase revenues, time spent could take a hit from frustrated viewers logging off.

Amid streaming’s success, linear TV is still relevant. Time spent is in decline, and that trend won’t change. But the drop-off is happening slower than Insider Intelligence’s initially forecasted due to viewing habits of people 35 and older, many of whom “have not yet cut cords,” said Ellis.