mobileTVTwo-thirds of young adult U.S. Millennials and more than four in 10 (43 percent) of U.S. adults overall say they regularly watch television shows via Internet streaming, according to The Harris Poll.  That compares to over half (55 percent) who said they regularly watch via cable and 23 percent who watch via satellite.  The Harris Poll surveyed 2,300 U.S. adults online between April 16 and April 21.

When it comes to what type of device adult Americans are using to watch TV, Harris Interactive researchers found that 85 percent say they most often watch via TV set (live feed, recorded or on-demand), which is 4 percentage points lower than what was registered in the 2012 Harris Poll. Those who primarily use Internet streaming of TV programming, in contrast, rose to 23 percent from 2012′s 20 percent. The shift in favor of streaming is most pronounced among Millennials, among whom a non-streaming preference dropped from 77 percent to 68 percent year over year while a streaming preference increased from 41-47 percent.

Streamed TV Show Viewership Trends
Among those who regularly watch TV shows via streaming, Harris found that three-quarters (74 percent) do so via computer. Just over half (55 percent) use a television (either via a set-top box, game system or a television with online capabilities built-in). Nearly four in 10 (37 percent) watch on tablets, including 63 percent of tablet owners, while 30 percent watch on smartphones, including 42 percent of smartphone owners.

Almost one-quarter of U.S. adults (23 percent) say they’re streaming more TV and online content today than they were one year ago. Thirty-seven percent said the amount of online/TV streaming they do is unchanged and 7 percent said they’re watching less via streaming than last year.

Looking ahead, Harris found that 18 percent of respondents expect to be watching more via streaming services a year from now. Four percent said they expect to be streaming less and 50 percent said they don’t expect the amount of TV and online streaming they do to change.

With both pay-TV and over-the-top (OTT) providers competing to offer more in the way of content, nearly four in ten U.S. adults said they have subscribed to a premium cable channel to watch specific shows. That compares to one-quarter (24 percent) who gave the same reason for subscribing to a streaming service.

Asking streaming services’ “likely ‘core’ constituents” the main reasons they look to streaming services for access to specific shows, Harris found:

  • Six in ten streaming-dominant viewers would like to be able to watch TV pilots and vote on what gets ordered as a full series (60%);
  • Four in ten (40%) would be willing to pay extra for a service that allowed them to stream current shows ad-free;
  • 37% would pay more for a streaming service that allowed them to temporarily download TV episodes for when they’re away from an Internet connection.

Harris researchers also found so-called “distracted viewing” to be commonplace. Nearly eight in 10 U.S. adults (78 percent) said they do other things while watching TV. Over six in 10 (63 percent) said they coincidentally engage in online activities; over one-third (35 percent) said they read books, magazines or newspapers; and 7 percent said they read books on electronic devices. Twenty-two percent said they do other things.