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NEW YORK — Whoever said this was the “golden age of television” may want to look away when the pandemic ends. There’s no denying people are watching a lot of TV during quarantines and lockdowns. A new study reveals 70 percent of Americans say they’re watching and streaming even more TV now than at the start of COVID. Unfortunately, not all the shows and streaming services are living up to their hype, leaving many people ready to cut their subscriptions.

Of those watching more TV than last year, the average person is streaming three additional hours a day in comparison to March 2020. The survey of 2,000 Americans, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Tubi, also finds the pandemic has added stress to TV watching in an unusual way.

With many activities off the table over the past year, respondents said they felt the need to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist. In fact, one in three admit they felt more pressure than ever to press play on whatever was trending because there was nothing else to do.

Big hype, but little payoff

Streaming PandemicOf those surveyed, 31 percent blamed social media for creating a socially-distanced peer pressure effect during the pandemic. Another 28 percent said their friends made them feel like they just had to keep up with the nightly programming. Even though over half the poll (55%) is using a streaming service as an escape from their daily lives, trending shows aren’t necessarily living up to their hype.

The findings reveal “Tiger King” is officially the most over-hyped show of the pandemic. “I Care A Lot” and “Schitt’s Creek” round out the top three things respondents watched that they now consider overrated television.

Shows about British aristocracy didn’t fare well either, with “Bridgerton” and “The Crown” coming in fourth and fifth place on this dubious list. Also ranking in the top ten most overrated pandemic offerings include “The Mandalorian,” “Wandavision,” and “The Last Dance.”

The upcoming streaming exodus

Streaming PandemicDespite keeping up with their streaming fees, the pandemic took a financial toll on many Americans. With that in mind, one in two (49%) want to find ways to pay less for their streaming services than they did in 2020.

Nearly a third (32%) are planning on canceling the streaming services they’re currently using once the country fully reopens. One in three cite cost as the reason they’re planning to cancel a subscription.

Of those planning on cutting back their streaming use, nearly half (46%) say Netflix is most likely to get the chop. Hulu (34%) and Amazon Prime (34%) follow closely behind. Over the past twelve months, half of those surveyed say they also turned to free, ad-supported streaming services as a way to cut costs and supplement their subscription bills.

“Movies and TV shows served as a much-needed escape and form of entertainment over this past year,” a Tubi spokesperson says in a statement. “Though as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, Americans are likely to be more discerning around how much they’re spending on subscriptions once life returns to normal.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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