Arris report says U.S. OTT users declined 2% over the last year

Despite a flurry of new streaming video choices, the number of U.S. and Canadian consumers who identify themselves as regular users of over-the-top content actually declined 2 percent over the last year, according to Arris' latest Consumer Entertainment Index report.

The annual global study, which will be released today, surveyed more than 19,000 consumers around the world and found that 86 percent of North American consumers surveyed said they watch OTT video versus 88 percent in the 2014 study.

Sandy Howe, senior VP of global marketing at Arris, said Europe's base of OTT users only grew 1 percent, as well. Given that Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has reached 65 million users, and popular new OTT services ranging from Sling TV to HBO Now have launched this year, Arris' figures are surprising to say the least.

Still, Howe attributes its purported slow-to-negative growth of OTT consumption to streaming operators failing to meet the shrinking but still strong demand for broadcast TV content.

Among other key findings, Arris says 68 percent of North American survey respondents said it is vital to have a high-speed Internet connection in every room in their home. However, nearly 55 percent of consumers reported having a significant issue with downloading or streaming video content. More than half of survey it's very important to have Wi-Fi that works beyond its current range, and 23 percent report using Wi-Fi extenders to address that concern.

The Wi-Fi findings, Howe said, "underscored" all the other data in the study regarding digital media consumption. "Wi-Fi is now a necessity," she said, "but we're failing to meet expectations."

It's important to note here the often fine line between the scientific collection of data and commerce--Arris also manufactures and sells a complete line of Wi-Fi range extenders.

Among other data points, Arris says that 42 percent of U.S. consumers are now regularly watching mobile video versus a global average of 59 percent.

The study also found that binge viewing is a decidedly solo habit, with 65 percent of consumers in the U.S. and Canada watching multiple hours of the same show alone.

Arris commissions the annual Consumer Entertainment Index study, Howe explains, to track how consumers are engaging with entertainment so it can better provide its operator partners more relevant products.

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