Going to the Movies vs. Streaming at Home


Watching movies at home has existed since Blockbuster stores were still open, but the introduction of streaming services has taken entertainment to a whole new level. In fact, watching movies at home has become as easy as clicking a button on the TV remote. And while streaming services have made waves in the film industry, they haven’t wholly replaced movie theaters – yet. The U.S. box office saw a 28% decrease in 2019, but according to experts, streaming services are not the cause.

In fact, some think the most popular streaming service, Netflix, might be the one in jeopardy – with the introduction of other streaming services. However, streaming services have become more popular than paid TV services. So how do streaming services measure up to theaters? Do people prefer watching movies from the comfort of their own home more than on the big screen – even when first released? We surveyed over 1,000 people about their movie-viewing preferences to learn which screen reigns supreme and why. Keep reading to see what we found.

Half of frequent moviegoers would prefer to stream movies at home.

  • People who primarily used Amazon Prime Video were the most likely to prefer watching movies in theaters (40%).
  • People who primarily used Hulu were the most likely to prefer streaming movies at home (73%).

While just under 60% of Americans are subscribed to a streaming service, 65% of our respondents said they would prefer to stream new movies at home. But the preference seems to come down to experience versus convenience: Millennials watch traditional TV less than any other generation, yet were the least likely to prefer streaming new movies at home. On the other hand, Gen Xers were the most likely to prefer streaming new movies at home at 73%.

But it isn’t all about age – frequency also plays a role. While 92% of those who only went to the theater once a year or less preferred streaming new movies at home, 75% of those who went a few times a year said they would prefer to stream. Even among monthly moviegoers, 50% indicated a streaming preference. Only people who went to the theater at least once a week preferred to see a new movie at the theater.

Millennials were the most likely to pay a higher price to stream.

  • More than 3 in 4 people said they were at least somewhat likely to pay a premium to stream new movies from home while a quarter of people said they were very likely to pay a premium
  • People who said they were very likely to pay a premium to stream new movies at home were willing to pay more. They averaged $13 per movie or $28 a month.

When movie theaters first opened, a few nickels were enough to enjoy a film. Fast forward 70 years and the average price of a single movie ticket in North America has reached a record high of $9.38. But around the world, some tickets can cost moviegoers upward of $50. Considering the increasing cost of going to the theater and a strong preference for at-home streaming, more than 3 in 4 people said they would be at least somewhat  likely to pay a premium to stream new movies at home. While 74% of baby boomers said comfort was worth a premium price, 76% of Gen Xers and 80% of millennials said the same.

However, when asked about the price, people were willing to pay more for a single ticket to a standard movie than they were per new movie streamed at home, with an average amount of $12. But when it comes to paying per movie streamed at home, the price people were willing to pay dropped to $11.

Paying to stream isn’t doomed, though. It seems that people would rather pay more for a monthly service than a single stream. Across all generations, people were willing to spend an average of $22 per monthly service to watch new movies at home.

Comfort is the top reason people prefer to watch From home.

To combat the failing box office, movie theaters have turned to recliners, a full menu, and even fully stocked bars. But plush seating and alcoholic beverages haven’t done much to gain support – comfort and the cost of food and beverages at theaters were the main reasons people preferred to stay home and stream new movies.

Nearly 70% of people said they prefer to watch new movies at home because it is more comfortable. Baby boomers were the most likely to identify comfort as one of their top three reasons (78%), but 68% and 66% of Gen Xers and millennials said the same, respectively. The cost of food and beverages at theaters along with the ability to adjust the viewing experience were also among the top three reasons people preferred to stream. However, millennials were the most likely to cite others reasons: 16% of the younger generation said one of their top reasons was lack of time, while 17% said they would need to find a babysitter if they went out.

“Theater experiences” increase movie enjoyment for the majority of people.

Watching movies at home may come with unmatched comfort, but the sound, sight, and overall experience make some major films better suited for the theater – or at least that’s how it seems. When it came to viewing preferences for popular film premieres, the majority of respondents were just fine watching them from their couch.

A whopping 66% said they would consider watching the next films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars franchise from home. And for the next movies in the DC Universe or Harry Potter franchise, people were even more likely to consider watching from home. Only 27% said they would need to see the next DC Universe movie in theaters, while 25% said the same about the next Harry Potter film.

Whether it’s the bigger screen, louder sound, or an array of snacks, aspects of the “theater experience” can positively influence people’s enjoyment of a movie. While only 18% said it made a movie less enjoyable, nearly 60% said it made a movie at least slightly more enjoyable.

Streamers plan to go to the movies less over the next three years.

  • People who primarily used Amazon Prime were the most likely to say original movies produced by streaming services were more entertaining than theater movies (18%), followed by people who primarily used Netflix (15%).

The popularity of Netflix and other streaming services has put pressure on movie theaters. While streaming services aren’t solely responsible for the drop in ticket sales, people clearly favor the cheaper, more convenient option – so what does this mean for the future of theaters? Sixty-four percent of people said they would go to the movies less in the next three years, while only 5% said they would go to the movies more over the next three years.

Despite popular movie theaters using Netflix as a model for new subscription services, Netflix users were the most likely to say they would go to the movies less (67%). Sixty-three percent of Amazon Prime Video users and 59% of Hulu users said the same, while cable TV users were the least likely to admit to a decline in attendance.

But the future of ticket sales is only one issue faced by the film industry. One of the most well-known directors in Hollywood, Steven Spielberg, has voiced concern about original movies produced by streaming services making their way to the Oscars. But 31% of our respondents thought theater movies were just as entertaining as those produced by streaming services, and 16% thought these original movies were even more entertaining than films in theaters. Nevertheless, the 52% of people who believed theater movies were more entertaining than originals produced by streaming services might side with Spielberg.

Future of content?

There’s no denying that Americans favor comfort – and the same goes for movie watching. Whether using live TV streaming services like Hulu + Live TV with a TV guide or an on-demand service like Netflix, viewers have more choices. Streaming services have opened doors for people to watch new movies at home and have even convinced frequent theatergoers to stay in. But the future of movie theaters isn’t completely doomed. New ticket subscription services may make the theater experience more attractive to viewers, especially since cost is a major factor in their decision to watch from home.

However, if subscription services start releasing movies at the same time as movie theaters, home entertainment could take on a whole new role. But until that happens, the cost and comfort of watching movies at home are well worth the wait.

Dealing with cable, on the other hand, isn’t. With so many streaming services, it’s difficult to know which one will provide the same content as your beloved cable package. At Flixed, we’re here to help you cut the cord and find the right streaming service for your needs. Making the switch doesn’t mean missing out on your favorite channels or even a heftier price tag – to learn how, visit us online today.


Fifty-one percent of respondents identified as female, and 49% of respondents identified as male. Less than 1% of respondents identified as a gender not listed in our study. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 78 with a mean of 38 and a standard deviation of 11.7. Fifty-nine percent of respondents were millennials, 27% were Gen Xers, and 12% were baby boomers.


Content streaming platforms were limited to results with 60 or more respondents.

Fair use statement

Netflix and chill has become the standard way to watch movies, but many people might not realize what their streaming habits mean for theaters or the film industry. If you’d like to share our findings with your followers or friends, the graphics and content found here are available for noncommercial reuse. We just ask that you link back to this page to give the authors proper credit.

Lisa Holden

Lisa Holden Editor

Lisa Holden is an editor and creative based in Houston, TX. Lisa holds a BA in African-American Studies from Temple University and has spent her career working in news publications and magazines, even founding a magazine herself. She began working as an editor for Flixed in 2023. When she’s not editing or working on one of her many creative endeavors (whenever that is), she enjoys traveling to new places and biking on sunny days.

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