During this time of stay-at-home orders, it’s no surprise that life can feel isolating for many people. Television has always been a catalyst for connection, and today, these shared viewing experiences are even more important, as they provide an escape from reality, create daily routines, and provide something to look forward to and talk about. The appetite and occasions for shared viewing continues to grow, and it has implications for content, messaging and brands.
Co-Viewing is on the Rise for Linear and Streaming TV
While people are at home, they are without a doubt consuming more content, and are watching more frequently with others. According to a recent Nielsen study, combined co-viewing across broadcast, cable, syndication and streaming grew from 35% at the beginning of March to 40% at the end of March.
Co-viewing is prevalent on streaming TV, as the purposeful viewing experience with choice and control lends itself to that activity. Families and friends make decisions together about what and when to view, and Nielsen’s study revealed that co-viewing with streaming TV happens 47% of the time and happens 34% on linear.
During stay-at-home orders, streaming TV also yielded growth in co-viewing as the percentage of persons co-viewing increased 15% by the end of March. In the same time period, linear co-viewing increased 9%, as families sought out diverse content to watch together.
Co-Viewing is Especially Prevalent on Hulu
In an effort to better understand the communal viewing experience on Hulu during COVID-19, we connected with Hulu viewers to learn more about their viewing behaviors. We found that 61% of Hulu viewers are co-viewing Hulu content.
Staying home more has actually altered viewers’ usual habits, as 37% of viewers report watching more Hulu content with others now than they typically would.
Hulu viewers are also watching both movies and TV series with others, but are more likely to co-view when they’re watching movies. 81% said they are watching movies with others, versus 19% who are watching movies alone, and 73% shared that they are watching TV shows with others, versus 27% watching alone.
When watching alone, Hulu viewers are more likely to tune into the news and to re-watch favorite shows and movies.
Streaming Together has Become Routine
Time at home has produced some silver linings for families and friends. Not only are 93% of Hulu co-viewers tuning in together once a week or more, but Hulu viewers also find the shared viewing experience ‘fun’ as it gives them ‘something to look forward to.’
Who is watching together? 75% of Hulu co-viewers are watching content with their significant other, while 38% are co-viewing with their child(ren).
Shared Control Over the Remote
It’s a question that can put strain on even the strongest co-viewing relationship … what are we going to watch tonight? Finding the right content to stream can be hard, but Hulu viewers are good at compromising when deciding what to watch.
When we asked how Hulu viewers decide what to co-view during stay-at-home orders we found that:
Content selection is becoming more focused on what can be enjoyed together and about half of co-viewers’ content choices are made with their viewing partners. Choosing what to watch is a bonding experience in itself and co-viewers painted a picture around their selection process:
Co-Viewing and Connection to Brands
The COVID-19 crisis has without a doubt altered everyday life. These stay-at-home orders arrived at a time when consumers were already turning more toward streaming services, and on-demand access to thousands of shows and movies provides limitless opportunities for watching together.
We’ve seen in previous co-viewing research that people are actually more attentive to advertisements when watching with others. Therefore, the overall increase in TV viewing (and with streaming TV in particular), coupled with the rise in co-viewing occasions, creates a unique opportunity and moment in time for marketers to better connect with consumers.
Co-Viewing Now Extends Outside of the Home
In an effort to bring people together during social distancing, Hulu created a new co-viewing experience called Watch Party – offered exclusively on Hulu. This elevated co-viewing experience lets users virtually watch shows and movies together while still staying socially distant. Now, more than ever, finding ways to stay connected with others is key – and viewers don’t need to look beyond Hulu as a means of coming together!