Netflix Takes Big Chunk of Viewing but May Not Hurt Ad-Supported TV

Streaming Service Hits the Likes of HBO and Video on Demand, GfK Finds

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Ownership of dedicated set-top or plug-in devices that access Netflix, YouTube and other web-based services on big-screen TVs has increased tenfold since 2010 to 21% of U.S. households, according to a new report by GfK.

But while the trend is fueling big increases in viewership of video on subscription services, particularly Netflix, it's not having much impact on "regular" ad-supported broadcast or cable TV yet, according to David Tice, a senior VP leading the media sector at GfK.

Netflix, in particular, is taking a substantial chunk of viewership time in the U.S., according to the Over-the-Top TV 2014 study, based on a GfK tracking survey of more than 1,000 people in the U.S. "Over-the-top" is industry jargon for video entertainment delivered via the web. While the survey doesn't track viewership directly and is based on reported viewing, it's not clear that self-reported viewership biases results toward any particular media or delivery system.

The average 13-to-64-year-old in the U.S. is now watching three TV shows and two movies a week on Netflix -- a number that encompasses the entire population and not just Netflix subscribers -- according to GfK. Regular Netflix users are watching 7.1 TV shows and 3.8 movies weekly.

Yet when Netflix users are asked how that affects their other viewing habits, they indicated "a neutral to slightly positive impact" on viewership of regular advertiser-supported TV channels, Mr. Tice said.

Netflix usage, however, did have a negative impact on viewership or purchase of such subscription cable channels as HBO and Starz as well as on video-on-demand services, according to GfK. Also, not surprisingly, heavy Netflix usage has had a negative impact on DVD or BlueRay Disc rentals of all sorts.

Among some key numbers in the report:

15% to 25%
The ownership rate of streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast among Generation Y (ages 13 to 34) viewers in just the past year, now double the 12% ownership rate for Baby Boomers (49 to 64).

17%
Proportion of Gen Y using streaming devices at least once a month.

7%
Proportion of Baby Boomers using streaming devices at least once a month.

21%
Ownership rate of streaming devices among Generation X (ages 35 to 48), with 19% of that generation also using those devices at least once monthly, actually beating Gen Y.

45%
The proportion of Netflix users who actually own the account they use (as opposed to calling mom or dad to ask for that password again).

7%
The proportion of true cable cord cutters in the U.S., according to Mr. Tice. It skews slightly downscale, but is fairly representative across demographic groups.

10%
The proportion of households that still have VCRs.

29%
The proportion of Netflix users who say they "binge view" often.

43%
The proportion of people in the sample who have ever used Netflix Watch Instantly, up from 29% last year.

16%
The proportion of the U.S. population that has ever used Amazon Prime to stream video, up from 9% last year. About two-thirds of Prime members use its video streaming, GfK says.