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We keep streaming more movies and TV shows and we especially like big screens, smart TVs and Roku

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Consumers gained some freedom this past spring as COVID’s hold weakened but Americans’ streaming appetite continued to grow, surpassing the massive amount of movies and TV episodes watched during lockdown.

As more people got vaccinations, restaurants and other businesses began reopening for in-person sales. Regardless, streamers did not hit the brakes on bingeing.

Worldwide streaming time grew 13% in the April-June 2021 time period, compared to a year ago, according to Conviva, a Foster City, California, research firm that tracks more than 500 million unique viewers and 180 billion streams annually on more than 3.3 billion applications.

Since mid-March 2020, Conviva has recorded streaming video surges of double-digit growth in time spent watching, with an uptick of 63% globally in the second quarter of 2020. Continued growth during April-June suggests “while viewing habits certainly changed, those temporary spikes have turned out to be not so temporary,” Conviva’s Q2 2021 State of Streaming report says. “The pandemic has spurred a tipping point in streaming that shows no signs of reversal.”

In North America, streaming grew just 2% during the three-month period, with the most growth seen in South America (179%) and Africa (79%).

There had been some signs such as a decline in new video subscriptions, pointing to a possible post-pandemic lull. Evidently not just yet.

“Even with the absolutely astronomical spike in streaming in the U.S. in Q2 2020, we still recorded growth when compared to the height of pandemic streaming and see accelerating year-over-year growth as we exit Q2 2021,” said Paula Mantle, Conviva’s director of global marketing and research. “Streaming has become a staple for Americans and we see no signs of that subsiding even as the world began to look a little more normal.”

How we watch streaming video

A big screen TV is the display of choice in every region except Asia, where smartphones and mobile devices are used for 42% of all viewing with big screens getting 16%. Elsewhere big screens accounted for 50% or more of viewing, with North American streamers using big screens 82% of the time. Tablets, mobile phones and desktops, collectively are used for 18% of viewing in North America.

For now, when we do watch on a connected TV, the average time spent is 27.6 minutes, compared to just 9.1 minutes when watching on a mobile phone. Streaming sessions on smart TVs and game consoles run 26.3 minutes.

Roku remained the most popular streaming device connected to TVs, with 31% of users, followed by Amazon Fire TV (18%), Samsung TV (12%), PlayStation and LG TV (6% each), Xbox, Apple TV, Android TV and Chromecast (5% each).

“Consumers are increasingly switching to smart TVs with built-in streaming capabilities rather than relying on external connected TV or gaming consoles to stream,” Mantle said. “As viewers upgrade their television sets over time we expect to see this trend continue, as consumers will clearly consider and value streaming capabilities more than ever as their streaming viewing time increases.”

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