ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: video libraries and streaming services.

MEDIA REPUBLIK > TV & VIDEO > ARD/ZDF online study 2021: video online consumption

In its 25th edition, the annual ARD/ZDF Online Study has covered extensively online video consumption in German. The 2021 study has also included a detailed breakdown of paid streaming usage. Key takeaways in this post, plus resources to go deeper.


of the 14-29
daily video online


OF THE 30-49
age group visit
netflix weekly



The shift from traditional TV to online and on-demand.

The trend is accelerating: all age groups under 70 shifted time and attention away from linear television programmes to streaming services in the last five years. The transformation in the younger groups is impressively fast here in Germany:

  • 14- to 29-year-olds. From a still quite comfortable lead of television (and DVD) in 2017, the usage is clearly dominated by online video (77% usage share) in 2021.
  • But even among 30-49 year-olds, the balance has shifted from classic access channels (from 89% to 57% share of daily video time) to content used online (from 11% to 43% share).

In both age groups, it is primarily streaming services that are increasing their share.

Share of time of use moving image by age group: 2017 to 2021.

Source: 2021 ARD/ZDF Online StudyExecutive summary (PDF)

Download: XLSPNG

2020-2021: paid streaming has been the biggest driver of shifting consumption.

Besides Youtube, ARD/ZDF media libraries have played a crucial role to shape German online video consumption in the last years.

They have educated people to access content on-demand and adapted to the growing competition from paid streaming by adopting similar “binge-watching” release programming online.

In 2020-2021, paid video streaming services have been the main growth drivers. Their weekly user base has more than doubled within five years: at 42%, it is slightly larger than the ARD/ZDF media libraries.

media libraries and paid streaming drive the increase in video consumption, not social. % OF POPULATION USING DAILY OR WEEKLY VIDEO ONLINE.

Source: 2021 ARD/ZDF Online StudyExecutive summary (PDF)

Download XLS | PNG

In 2020/2021, the streaming platforms grew especially in the 30-49 group.

The streaming platforms continue to be most firmly anchored in the young age segment but could broaden their user base compared to the “pre-Corona year” 2019 in the middle age groups – primarily among 30-49 year-olds.

Thus, for the first time in the ARD/ZDF study, the weekly user base of streaming services in 2021 exceeds that of YouTube videos (not TV-related) and widens the gap to social media as a video source.

Frequency of use of streaming services 2019 to 2021 with at least weekly use, BY AGE group

Source: 2021 ARD/ZDF Online StudyExecutive summary (PDF)


The pandemic had an accelerating function here, too. While 14 to 29 year-olds were already among the regular online video users before the Corona pandemic, the older target groups have caught up quickly.

The success of streaming services as an everyday medium is, on the other side, still being carried by younger audience groups. Retention among the young core audience under 30 years of age has further strengthened in 2021: one in two access streaming platforms every day, while the older groups access less-than-daily.

Individual VOD providers in comparison.

The ARD/ZDF Online Study 2021 provides for the first time a view on usage compared among online video providers, both public and commercial. 

By weekly use, the video services of the two large private TV broadcasting groups – Pro7Sat1 and RTL – remain stable in the overall population – but at a significantly lower level of use than the free media libraries of ARD and ZDF.

Among the paid streaming services, Netflix continues to defend its market leadership: 

  • 40% use the service occasionally, 
  • 32% at least once a week, 
  • 11% daily. 

Amazon Prime maintains its second place and is accessed 

  • by 30% occasionally,
  • by 18% at least once a week, 
  • and by 5% daily. 

With a double-digit user potential, but still with a clear gap to Netflix and Amazon Prime, is the streaming service Disney+, available in Germany since March 2020, with 17 per cent, followed by Sky’s online services and TV Now. 


The ARD/ZDF Online Study 2021 was conducted on behalf of the ARD/ZDF Research Commission. The results for online consumption are part of a general study on Mass Communication Trends 2021. 1,502 representatively selected German-speaking persons aged 14 and over were interviewed by telephone between 9 March and 24 April in 2021 (Note: still under Lockdown).

All the takeaways from the ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021 published here:

  1. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: key takeaways.
  2. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: paid streaming and video libraries.
  3. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: radio, music, voice.

The ARD/ZDF Study here: presentation, key data, featured articles.

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