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Media consumers may be reaching limit of streaming services

Streaming services saturation

A British research company may have discovered a magic number for American media consumers — and it's seven.

That's seven streaming services, paid or free, that consumers are willing to subscribe to before the hassle of keeping track of log-ins and passwords just becomes too much, said Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director at the London-based media consultancy OMDIA.

For the past few years, OMDIA has been monitoring the average number of streaming services that online homes subscribe to, and it rose steadily from around 5 to 7.23 in the United States last November. But the latest survey, completed in April, showed that number had dropped to 7.06.

“It's not that people want to watch less,” Rua Aguete said. “But people don't like to keep so many streaming services and log-ins.”

If true, if seven is indeed the number where many consumers will draw the line, that has enormous business implications. It increases the importance of aggregators, or services where people can seamlessly collect their services, and make it harder for new companies to get into the business. It can also be the impetus for big business deals, like last month's announced merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia.

That's also a boost to the established companies. Netflix is the most popular paid streaming service, with 57% of online households in the U.S. subscribing to it. Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max are the other leaders, OMDIA said. YouTube is tops among free services.



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