Focused on competing against each other, streaming platforms actually have many more obstacles in the fight to capture users’ attention during their leisure time, with social media, gaming, podcasts and many more options also on the table. So what makes a service a “must-have” for consumers?

Already established as one of the go-to sources of entertainment, OTT platforms have become part of many household’s daily routine and an integral part of their lives.

According to a new report from Hub Entertainment Research, the average number of video streaming service subscriptions per user has increased 51% in the US since the beginning of 2019.

In this scenario, many experts and analysts have devoted time to studying the increasing competition between streaming platforms, and the different models and strategies they should use to prevail in the so-called “streaming wars”.

However, streaming platforms musn’t only think of each other as competitors, but rather fight for a spot among users’ overall time devoted to leisure and entertainment, which spans far beyond just TV.

“Many think of the streaming wars as waged between video providers. But the set of providers competing for the same disposable time is much bigger”, says HBR’s report, titled Battle Royal: Winning Share of Mind in the Subscription Economy.

Surveying over 3000 US consumers ages 18 to 74, the researcher found that, across categories, the average household uses 12.5 different sources of entertainment; a number which increases to 15.5 among people ages 18-34, and to 16.4 in households with kids.

But, out of those 12.5 sources of entertainment, only half (6.2) are considered to be “must-haves” by consumers.

So what makes services stand out from the rest? Is it price? Availability? Or, as many proclaim, original content and unique offers? Well, the latter, for the most part. According to the report, “platforms for which there is no easy substitute, like Crunchyroll or YouTube, are more likely to be must-haves”.

First in line is Spotify, which 75% of users described as a “must-have”, followed by YouTube with 69%, Netflix with 68%, Crunchyroll with 67%, StadiaPro with 67%, XBox Live with 66% and Funimation with 65%.

In addition, as they say, there’s a time and a place for everything, and viewers also choose, and use, sources for specific scenarios. For instance, the report indicates that social media rules at 30 minutes or less, while anything over an hour will be devoted to streaming.

In this scenario, users claim to use social media as a means for “killing time”, while streaming is the go-to for “more immersive entertainment”.

Lastly, the report indicates that bundling breeds attachment, and that more consumers are likely to subscribe to services that offer several packages in one, such as Amazon, when combined with Prime Video, Prime Gaming or Amazon Music.

So which are the main takeaways for platforms and providers competing in the new overcrowded entertainment industry? First, that “entertainment” means a lot more that just video. Second, that consumers use lots of sources of entertainment, but only about half are really important. Third, platforms with no easy substitute are more resilient. Fourth, that bundling is a pathway to being considered a given. And lastly, that leveraging IP across categories is a big opportunity.

The full report can be found here.