The average user spends about 1 hour every day consuming content on Netflix, however, despite its recent ad-supported plan, the American video streaming platform is expected to continue to dominate charts in 2023, marketing research company Insider Intelligence accounted.

The ongoing writer’s strike seemed to not have affected streaming services too much with the average time users spend on Hulu expected to increase by 1 minute in 2023.

However, short and medium-length video streaming platforms are also in close competition with the rest, as users continue to spend about an hour on TikTok and around 50 minutes on YouTube per day.

Media platforms are battling for our attention, so who will stay on top?

Content Consumption Habits Are Changing

When was the last time you watched broadcast television?

The increased launch of on-demand streaming services and video-focused social media platforms has changed how people are consuming video entertainment content with Statista reporting that by 2026 only 57.2 million households in the United States will pay for cable television, down by around 50% from 100 million in 2014.

Maria Harrison, the president and co-founder of Bullseye Strategy explained:

“Streaming services and social media apps play different roles in the modern digital landscape. Users are leaning back when watching streaming content most typically found on Netflix and Hulu. And a user’s mindset on a streaming service will be one of engage me, entertain me, and take me on a journey whereas on an app like TikTok, rooted in short-form video, user attention is short-lived, with a quick scroll of the thumb dismissing and favoriting content as fast as you can blink.”

In today’s world, dominated by short attention spans, these shorter more engaging forms of media are dominating the landscape. Indeed, the average attention span has gotten worse over the years with an average human having an attention span of about 8.25 seconds, 4.25 seconds less than at the start of the century. Even more shocking news, our attention span in worse than a goldfish’s which is estimated to last about 9 seconds.

Media Platforms Are Changing Their Strategies

In 2021 YouTube released YouTube Shorts, a TikTok-like feature allowing users to consume short-form vertical videos of up to 60 seconds in length. A year earlier, Instagram had jumped onto the bandwagon by releasing a similar feature called Reels, obviously trying to appeal to TikTok’s mass audience.

“Content consumption patterns are most certainly driving media platforms to reinvent how they deliver highly relevant content and personalized experiences to keep users engaged and selecting their platforms over the competition. To win over users, these platforms invest heavily in algorithm engineering that will optimize the most relevant content based on past user interactions within the platform,” Harrison noted.

She added that with YouTube releasing Shorts, the platform sees a massing advantage over TikTok as it has a highly engaged user base who can watch both long and short-form video content. However, TikTok was also quick to jump on the trend, introducing a 10-minute videos feature on its platform.

Is this the End of Traditional Media Platforms?

Traditional media platforms as well as the entertainment industry have been significantly impacted by the rise of streaming services and social media applications.

Harrison explained:

“Users today want on-demand content, in whatever format they prefer it. For example, if they are in the mood for short-form content, they will likely turn to TikTok but if they are in the mood for a binge, they will likely turn to a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu. And many users will wait to watch a series until it is released in full so that they can binge it rather than wait for new episodes to be released.”

In addition, a number of traditional media platforms have chosen to enter the streaming world, seeing how viewership of cable television is on the decline with the audience’s attention span.

However, in line with that, as streaming services continue to be favored by audiences, the sheer plethora of available media platforms for users to choose from is suffocating.

“Users are wary of the many subscriptions they now need and many are forced to choose between services based on budgetary constraints. There will continue to be a battle of eyeballs based on the content that each service provides. Traditional media and entertainment industries will need to continue to iterate on their mobile experiences with long and short-form content that appeases both appetites and allows them to have more content and therefore ad placement/revenue opportunities. I think we will continue to see certain big players battle it out while other players will turn towards collaboration with each other and even with influencer content creators.”

Streaming Platforms Are Still On Top

In May 2023 Hulu reported to have 48.2 million users meanwhile Netflix continues to take the lead, hosting over 238 million subscribers as of June 2023, benefitting from a recent spike driven by its new strict password-sharing measure earlier.

Overall, users seem to continue to turn to on-demand streaming platforms as opposed to the more traditional means of entertainment and experts are saying that this battle for consumers’ attention will continue.

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