It’s 2016. That means viewers have more options than ever to watch something on television. There are thousands of channels that people can subscribe to, dozens of streaming services and VOD services. Despite that, however, people are still finding it harder than ever to find something to watch on television.
According to a new study from the Ericsson Consumer Lab, 44 percent of American television viewers say they spend a portion of their day trying to find something to watch on TV and failing. The study found that the average person in the United States spends approximately 23 minutes a day trying to find something to watch. That may not seem like a lot considering how much television and content audiences are binging on a regular basis, but the study’s researchers have discovered that over the course of an average American’s life, they’ll waste 1.3 years endlessly scrolling through TV guides or browsing a variety of menus in an attempt to find something to watch — and failing.
Breaking that down even further, that works out to be 474 days of unsatisfying, desperate attempts to find anything to satiate the need for new programming before returning to Friends for the hundredth time.
In comparison, only 34 percent of those who use VOD and OTT services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime reported that they couldn’t find something to watch. As the study points out, it’s a little ironic considering that it takes more time for users to find something to watch on these services just because it takes more effort to browse. So while those using streaming services spend more time looking for shows, they’re actually happier with their television experience than those using standard TV options.
People spend the most time looking for something to watch on HBO Go, according to the study, with an average of 41 minutes a day being spent just scrolling through options. iTunes came in second at 33 minutes, with Netflix and Hulu tied for third with 28 minutes on average spent searching.
While that may seem like a lot of time wasted just trying to find something to watch, it’s not that alarming when the amount of time spent watching TV is taken into consideration. According to the study, people are spending four hours more per week on average watching content on mobile devices. There has been an increase in the amount of time 18-34 year olds are spending watching user generated content (UGC) on sites like YouTube. As more content becomes available on different mediums, viewers are spending more time than ever before taking in different content. That number will only increase as different streaming services are introduced and more UGC makes its way online.
Try not to worry about spending 474 days looking for something to watch on TV. Think of how much time, over the course of your life, you’ll spend brushing your teeth, sitting in traffic or standing in line at stores. It’s still just a small fraction of your life.
Or, you know, you can just choose Friends now and stop the existential dread from settling in.