How Much Time Do Viewers Really Spend With Netflix?

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When Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) last reported how many hours of video it streamed, the total came to 6.5 billion hours for the first quarter of 2014. Divided by the number of subscribers, that works out to 1 hour and 44 minutes per day per subscriber.

A new survey by Germany-based media firm GfK SE suggests that the number per viewer may be far lower — more like 44 minutes a day. According to GfK, in the United States an average TV viewer between the ages of 13 and 64 watches three TV shows and two movies a week on Netflix. That works out to 44 minutes a day. If only Netflix subscribers are counted, the number jumps to 1.5 hours a day, about what Netflix reported.

Nielsen comes in with a third set of numbers, according nScreenMedia. For 18 to 24 year olds, Web video consumption is just 21 minutes a day. And that’s the group that watches the most streaming video. The number of minutes watched per day drops to 19 in the 25- to 34-year-old group and to just 15 among 35 to 49 year olds.

One way to try to find a number everyone agrees on is to take into account a GfK claim that only 45% of people who use Netflix are actually subscribers. The rest were family and friends, according to nScreenMedia. Cut the hours by 45% and the total time that a viewer spends watching Netflix video is about 40 minutes.

A survey from earlier this year by nScreenMedia indicated that subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) viewers watched about 42 minutes of streamed video a day. Because Netflix dominates the U.S. SVOD market, it is fairly safe to assign the majority of those minutes to Netflix.

The conclusion: the amount of time that viewers spend watching Netflix video is around 40 minutes a day, or about the equivalent of one TV show. As for the much lower Nielsen estimate — about 31% of U.S. homes have Netflix subscriptions. Averaging all those Netflix-reported hours over all U.S. homes, the total time spent viewing Netflix content is about 13 minutes a day, which is in the Nielsen ballpark. nScreenMedia says that means that most of the time that an average viewer spent watching SVOD was spent viewing Netflix.

Shares of Netflix were trading down about 0.1% on Monday afternoon, at $448.38 in a 52-week range of $282.80 to $489.29.

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