PAW Patrol: The Movie debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Paramount+ | Source: Spin Master

According to new data from The NPD Group, time spent watching TV and movies in the U.S. rose 4% in the first half of this year. Viewing hours spent between January and June accounted for nearly 30% of the time that U.S. families spent entertaining themselves, but overall consumer spending on screen-based entertainment fell 1%.

The latest data is of interest to the toy industry as viewership through streaming services is increasingly moving the needle toward sales of tie-in toys, games, and ancillary products.

While the numbers between 2020 and 2021 have been influenced by changing habits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, NPD says that there are some trends to anticipate in terms of entertainment consumption through the end of the year. Engagement for subscription video on demand (SVOD) has pulled back as time spent on experiences has spiked 104% this year as businesses reopened and more families got vaccinated.

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“Looking ahead, the mandate for the industry is to retain viewer engagement and win the battle for share of viewers’ time,” says John Buffone, connected intelligence and media entertainment industry analyst for NPD. “As consumers migrate back to experiential activities, the available time to engage in watching TV shows and movies will naturally decline.”

NPD says that traditional content viewing on cable, satellite TV, and packaged media continues to migrate to streaming as theatrical attendance remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels during the first half of the year. The shift in theatrical schedules and the move to streaming for some titles drove attention to services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and others.

Look for more on the growing relationship between streaming and toys in the October 2021 issue of the Toy Book, coming soon!