It’s no secret that Netflix has totally revolutionized the way we watch TV, but did you know it's saving us a huge amount of commercial time, too? In fact, Netflix cuts down on commercials so much when compared to watching TV the traditional way that the average Netflix user has an incredible amount of extra time available for each program they watch.
We all know the Millennial preference for streaming shows online from our laptops has rendered the poor, old, cumbersome television set practically defunct, with studies showing that television audiences are aging at an alarming rate. Although our parents' generation still like to huddle around a big screen in the front room, us youngsters prefer the convenience of going cordless when it comes to getting our video and entertainment fix (laptops in bed FTW, of course). Combined with the fact streaming services are available on-demand whenever it suits us, and that the choice of shows available at our fingertips online is nearly limitless, it’s no wonder that Netflix is valued so highly these days.
And of course, when it comes to ads, there’s no contest again; although tuning into almost any network channel around the world means you'll probably be met with a wide variety of advertisements before, during, and after your favorite show, Netflix is famously commercial-free.
But have you ever wondered exactly how much commercial time your Netflix subscription is saving you each year? As in, how many precious hours of your life are actually yours, thanks to your well thought out plan to forgo the television for the laptop? Well, according to some number-crunching done by Cordcutting.com, it’s a pretty significant amount — an astonishing 160 hours a year, in fact.
Cordcutting.com worked this out by first taking into consideration the amount of subscribers Netflix currently has (75 million and counting, according to figures released by the company in January 2016), as well as the total amount of content streamed each day (125 million hours, according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and reported by The Verge). This means that the average amount of time a user spends viewing programs on Netflix equates to 1.67 hours per day. Cordcutting.com then used the the average number of minutes of commercials within an hour of cable TV as revealed by Nielsen (15.63), to arrive at 160 hours.
This is all the more impressive when you put this figure into perspective and take into consideration the fact that the average American works for 34.4 hours per week, and spends 3.5 hours a week doing housework. This means Netflix is saving its users almost five weeks of work in commercial time, per year, and almost 10 times that amount in time that could be spent doing housework. (Or something else, because let's face it: Given a choice between cleaning the bathroom and doing some other activity, most of us would take the other activity over the cleaning any day of the week.)
However, Cordcutting.com notes that their calculations also show how many hours of ads Netflix viewers replace with content from their shows. So the numbers show how many commercials Netflix viewers skip per hour of viewing, not per hour of content. Site writer Stephen Lovely explains, "In a given hour of viewing, Netflix subscribers don’t just see 15 minutes, 38 seconds fewer of commercials than cable TV subscribers – they also see 15 minutes, 38 seconds more of whatever they’re actually watching."
And, indeed, we do apparently like to use those extra minutes saved on commercials for more Netflix: For example, Americans spend, on average, more time watching Netflix than they do eating and having sex combined. Then there was that story of the Brooklyn man who recently broke the record for the most video streamed back-to-back in April of this year; he was up for 94 straight hours, which most of us probably wouldn't choose to do, but just think how many hours of commercials he didn't watch while he was doing it.
Either way, it's apparent that Netflix and other streaming video services haven't just affected our entertainment viewing habits; they've also changed the way we manage our time in general. After all, seconds count in a high speed world, right?