Viewers in the United States are streaming video across a variety of devices, including mobile phones, personal computers, and CTVs. In fact, 71% of viewers in the United States say that on the average day they stream on at least two devices, according to Penthera’s “2021 US Streaming Video Report”.
Each platform offers its own benefits. Mobile is convenient and personal, which likely explains why it is the most used device among viewers with 74% saying they stream on mobile. Yet CTV is enjoyed for its bigger screen and group viewing, which is why it is the most preferred device, with 47% saying it’s their favorite place to watch.
Mobile viewing continued to grow in popularity in the United States, with 71% of viewers saying they stream on mobile at least weekly—compared to 66% in 2020. In 2021, 45% are streaming on mobile every day. Though long thought to be most popular for on-the-go viewing, viewers continued to dispel that myth: 80% reported watching mobile videos at home, making it the most popular place to watch on the small screen.
Furthermore, US viewers reported watching more subscription-based video (SVOD) content than ad-supported video (AVOD). At the same time, they also prefer SVOD content: 54% of panelists said they watch SVOD content most often and 63% say it is their preferred type of content. Nevertheless, viewers in the United States enjoy watching ad-supported streaming videos, and half say it is because viewing ads lets them watch content for free or at a reduced cost. Yet, at the same time, when the experience is not good, they will not hesitate to stop using an AVOD service. The top experiential issue is annoying or repetitive ads, and 43% of those we surveyed said that would make them stop using a service.
In spite of streaming video’s continued surge in popularity, the rate of viewer frustration is on the rise in the United States, Penthera noted. This is especially true when it comes to mobile viewing: 92% of those surveyed said they have experienced frustrations when trying to watch on mobile, up from 88% of viewers in 2020. The most common issues are rebuffering, with 50% citing it as a frustration, and slow startup signs, which affect 42%. On CTV and PC, issues are common as well, with 75% reporting frustrations.
Regarding downloads, how American viewers are downloading content saw a massive shift in 2021. Its rate of increase continues to grow, with 69% of viewers saying they download—up from 67% in 2020 and 54% in 2019. But how and why they watch downloaded content has changed. The most popular reason for downloading in 2021 is to avoid buffering, which makes sense given that it is viewers' top reported issue and that download is an easy fix to avoid frustration interruptions.
But the most noteworthy new trend among viewers in the United States is that they are mostly downloading content from streaming services to watch at home—more than for travel. In 2020, the most popular place to watch downloads was on a trip. But in 2021, 45% say they watch downloaded videos on mobile at home (compared to 35% in 2020) while only 32% watch downloaded videos when on a trip.
Streaming services that offer download are at an advantage when it comes to viewer loyalty and engagement: 41% of viewers say that they are more likely to subscribe to a streaming service that offers a download feature and 30% are more likely to watch programming from a service that does.