How much time is wasted worldwide on people looking for movies to watch on Netflix (annually)?

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How much time is wasted worldwide on people looking for movies to watch on Netflix (annually)?

Hello! Thanks for your question about how much time is spent worldwide looking for something to watch on Netflix. The short version is that about a total of 9.45 Billion hours was wasted by people looking for something to watch on Netflix in 2015. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.

OVERVIEW
Netflix started in 1997 as a home DVD delivery service which grew into media publishing and streaming powerhouse with over 86 Million subscribers. While Netflix still maintains its DVD mail order rental service, its online streaming content now accounts for 37% of all internet traffic in North America. While Netflix has made watching exactly what you want easier, finding what you want to watch doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

METHODOLOGY
I searched industry periodicals and journalistic sources pertaining to online streaming habits. Most of what I found lumped traditional cable watching in with online streaming. I was able to find sources that gave the percentage of total user time spent searching for something to watch on Netflix versus actually watching content as a ratio. To find out how much time was spent searching, I used proportional algebra with the average time spent watching Netflix and the ratio of time spent watching versus searching.

RESULTS
According to the end of the year investor report from Netflix, 42.5 Billion hours worth of programming was streamed in 2015. There was 75 Million worldwide subscribers at the time according to the same investor report. This means, that in 2015 Netflix users watched an average of 83 minutes of content a day. In December of 2015, a comprehensive study of Netflix algorithms was published in the ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems journal. This study used anonymous watching data taken from 65 Million worldwide Netflix subscribers. The report found that of the total time spent by users logged into the system, 80% was only spent streaming content and 20% of the logged in time was spent searching for something to watch. We can derive the average time spent searching by using proportional algebra to find an unknown quantity given a ratio of 80%:20%.

In this case if 80% of the time was actually streaming the 83 minutes of content, we can easily ascertain how much time was spent searching to view that content.
20% / 80% = Avg Time Searching / 83 minutes
20% * 83 minutes = 80% * (Avg Time Searching)
(20% * 83 minutes) / 80% = Avg Time Searching
(16.6 minutes) / 80% = Avg Time Searching

Avg Time Searching = 20.75 minutes

Thus we arrive at an average time of 20.75 minutes a day, or 126 hours a year, looking for something to watch on Netflix. This value is not far off from a much smaller study on the same subject also conducted in 2015. This study only examined the watching habits of 1,000 US residents and 500 each from the UK, Germany, France, India, and China. This study also lumped Hulu and cable TV in with Netflix and looked at total numbers for all three services. What they discovered was that users spent an average of 19 minutes a day, or 115 hours a year, browsing through content libraries on Netflix, Hulu, and cable TV guides searching for something to watch. This number is very close to the amount of time derived from the specific, and much larger, data set from Netflix. It is a good indication that our result is representative of international viewing habits in other forms of entertainment.

To see how much total time was wasted by Netflix user looking for something to watch in 2015 we multiply 126 hours by the total number Netflix subscribers in 2015.

126 hours * 75 Million = 9,450,000,000 hours wasted in 2015.

SUMMARY
To wrap it up: world wide, Netflix users spend roughly 21 minutes a day browsing for something to watch. That's 9.45 Billion total hours wasted by people looking for something to watch on Netflix in 2015.

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