Brits waste 3 days a year deciding what to stream

  • Dithering Brits spend 90 minutes a week choosing shows and films on streaming services, equivalent to over three days a year per household
  • Nearly a third of viewers (30%) admit that they stream every day, but one in seven (15%) say they often watch something they’ve already seen
  • Welsh households are most divided on streaming, with one in six (16%) struggling to agree on what to watch
  • Older streamers are the most decisive, with over 55s taking 13 minutes on average to pick a programme, compared with 23 minutes for 25-34 year-olds

UK households waste over three days a year browsing streaming services as they struggle to decide what to watch, new research by comparison site Broadband Genie can reveal.

Brits use a streaming platform five times a week on average, typically spending 18 minutes to make a choice each session. This means a UK household squanders an hour and a half each week before even pressing play – equivalent to 1.9 billion hours annually across the nation’s 25 million subscribers.

Netflix is the UK’s most popular streaming service – with an estimated 15 million subscribers – followed by Amazon Prime with 13 million and Disney+ with about 7 million.

Fierce competition has led to many platforms increasing the number of TV shows and films available. This month a TV industry report revealed that the UK currently has the world’s biggest streaming library with 229,000 titles, ahead of Japan and South Korea.

These bumper back catalogues – and the fact that nearly two-thirds of households (63%) use more than one platform – may be fuelling streaming indecision. This is supported by one in eight (13%) of viewers who say there is too much choice of what to watch on their streaming services.

For one in ten Brits (11%), the delays in decision-making are due to households finding it tough to agree on what to watch – while 8% admitted that they have had heated rows with friends or family members while searching for the right show. Perhaps fearing streaming scuffles, one in seven (15%) say that after looking through the content menu they often opt for something they’ve seen before.

Broadband Genie’s research found that senior streamers are the most decisive – with those aged 55 and over taking on average 13 minutes to pick a programme. They are nearly twice as fast as viewers aged 25 to 34, who take 23 minutes. 

Location also affects decision-making, with Welsh households found to be the most divided as one in six (16%) admit struggling to agree on what to watch. Meanwhile, Norwich is the UK’s boxset bickering capital, with 11% admitting that the pressure to choose has led to full-blown rows among housemates or family members.

A tenth (11%) of UK viewers feel they subscribe to too many streaming services, while nearly a quarter of Brits (23%) revealed they had scaled back their subscriptions as part of cost-of-living cuts in the last year.

Says Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie:

 “We have more TV channels and streaming services available to us than ever before. However, this embarrassment of riches is now just plain embarrassing, given the huge amount of time it’s taking UK viewers to pick what to watch. By being more decisive Brits could watch Toy Story each week and still have time to make a cup of tea. 

“Alongside indecisiveness, a poor internet connection can add to frustrations and mean TV shows and films are interrupted by screen freezes. For a smooth streaming experience, make sure your Wi-Fi router is located in the most efficient position – close to or in a clear line of sight to your TV or chosen device. 

“If your router is in a different room from your TV, and you’re experiencing buffering, you can also invest in Wi-Fi boosters or a mesh network to improve the internet connection throughout your home. Another option would be to use an ethernet cable to plug your smart TV directly into your router – this will give you faster speeds than a wireless connection. 

“However, for avid streamers or families wanting to use different platforms simultaneously, the best answer may well be switching to a faster broadband package. Run a speed test and see how your internet is performing. You need to be getting at least 25Mb through your Wi-Fi to stream in 4K, but higher speeds will ensure a more stable connection.”

Chris Price