Netflix users watched just short of an hour and a half more of the streaming service per month in 2019 than 2018, according to recent reports. That's according to the American market research company, The NPD Group. And it equates to an increase of around 20-minutes per week for this year compared to last. The increase comes even as Netflix's growth in the US and abroad appears to be slowing.
Other video services such as Hulu didn't do too badly either. Weekly viewing on average for the top two cord-cutting services rose by around 7-percent. That's due to an overall average increase from approximately 3 hours 45 minutes in 2018 to 4 hours 6 minutes in 2019.
Netflix view time is increasing while its growth is slowing
The change comes even as users appear to be failing to abandon their old services for new ones. According to NPD media entertainment industry analyst Kathi Chandler-Payatt, users are buying into new services but keeping their old ones. That's in spite of the resurgence of competition from the likes of Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus.
NPD indicates that 99.5 percent of consumers with subscriptions to either existing top service providers, including Netflix and Hulu, viewed at least one title per any given month last year.
All of that, for Netflix at least, is in spite of an apparent slowing in terms of the company's growth in the US over the last year. While the company has been in the business of streaming movies for the longest of its primary competitors, for the first quarter of 2020 it expects to add around 1.76 million fewer subscribers than the previous quarter. It's US business also fell around 420,000 below expectations last year.
According to industry insiders and market analysts, the drop comes not only because of staunch, increasing competition. The company stands to lose even more growth in the future as it continues spending inordinate amounts of money to keep itself pushing forward. That and the probability that it will need a fresh injection of funds, analysts say, could result in raised prices.
That may or may not be offset by longer viewing periods per user though. The company could stand to earn back a significant amount of its money back on original content if it can keep users interested and viewing trends up.
Does the trend have anything to do with exclusives?
Originals are, in fact, a key part of Netflix's approach. With the introduction of new series such as the recently launched 'The Witcher', the company currently hosts as much as 40-percent of its content as original. That's compared to just 10-percent at its top competitor Hulu.
Ms. Chandler-Payatt expects that 2020 will top that, with more than half of all Netflix content being original before the year's end.
It isn't unlikely that the number of originals on each platform is prompting users to keep subscriptions active. That's even as they sign up for new services. As new services emerge and content diverges to individualized platforms and apps, that will become more important. If Netflix continues to create quality original content, its user viewing times should continue growing per month well beyond 2019.