Two-Thirds Of TV Viewers Say They Get Frustrated Trying To Find Something Worth Watching

frustrationchartsIf you’ve wasted minutes of your life scouring the hundreds of available TV listings for something — anything — to watch, you’re not alone. A new survey shows that the large majority of TV watchers (especially those with families) are frustrated by the difficulty of locating something you might enjoy.

This is according to a new survey from Digitalsmiths, which asked thousands of U.S. consumers about their TV and streaming video behaviors and found that many of us are staring at the TV listings with glazed-over eyes.

Nearly two-thirds (64.2%) of all respondents said they at least occasionally experience frustration at their inability to find something worth watching. More than 1-in-10 (11.1%) of us say it’s so bad that they “always” have difficulty locating a show that won’t be anything other than background noise for them.

If it’s that problematic for an individual to pick a TV show, it only gets worse when more people are in the room. When asked about trying to find something that pleases multiple viewers, the overall level of frustration jumps to 71.4%. Interestingly, the percentage of people who “always” get frustrated finding a show remains virtually the same (11.4%), perhaps indicating that these folks might be a little hard to satisfy.

While it might seem like throwing more channels at people could solve this problem, the overwhelming majority (76.7%) of TV viewers say they are sick of paying for channels they don’t watch and would love to be able to cherry-pick their ideal TV lineup.

As shown in a previous Digitalsmiths survey, most respondents would only go with about 17 to 18 different channels and would be willing to pay around $40/month for that privilege.

And once again, the top choices for channels that would be in this ideal a la carte lineup were dominated by the broadcast networks and the biggest basic cable channels (A&E, Discovery, History), but not ESPN, which didn’t even make the cut for the top 20 in this survey — in spite of being the single-most expensive basic channel in anyone’s pay-TV package.


Another takeaway from the Digitalsmiths report is consumers’ shrugging off of their cable companies’ “TV everywhere” [TVE] options. Most cable and satellite providers have some sort of app that allows subscribers to watch certain live and on-demand content on their mobile devices outside of the home, but the survey found that many consumers don’t even know they have this option.

According to the charts below, only about half of U.S. pay-TV customers are aware that they can access TVE content, and only about half of those people have taken the step of actually downloading their providers’ apps.

Pay-TV providers are also failing to keep up with their streaming video counterparts in terms of making their listings easier to search.

More than three-quarters (78.2%) of respondents said that streaming services make it easy to find something to watch, compared to only 58.2% who said that traditional set-top box listings were easy to navigate.

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