Study Shows Liberals Stream More Than Conservatives on Most Platforms, Except One

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Mar 09, 2024

In the United States, the growing divide between political parties continues to grow wide. Americans can feel the growing tensions, and streamers are starting to feel it, too.

A recent study from MRI-Simmons’ USA Study (via Variety) for the fall of 2023 uncovered the number of Democrats and Republicans who stream, revealing one streamer reigns supreme for the Republican party.

Democrats Watch More TV Than Conservatives 

While you might think there will be a massive difference between the numbers, the study shows that the American adults surveyed show that everyone is watching TV. One political party has fewer subscribes than other.

A man pointing a remote at a TV while a girl in a green dress eats popcorn

Source: Jeshoots/Pexels

While the difference is small, a majority of the audience are Democrats on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Max, and AppleTV.

Paramount+ Has A Larger Conservative Audience

However, Republicans beat out Democrats for most subscribers to one major streaming service. While Democrats have the majority on most streaming platforms, the Paramount+ audiences are more likely to be conservative.

A chart showing which political party watches which streamers

Source: MRI-Simmons' USA Study

While the study does not explain nor speculate as to why certain political parties favor one streaming service over another, we can look at the shows offered by each platform.

Why Does Paramount+ Have A Larger Conservative Audience?

Paramount+ is the home to the “blue-collar procedurals,” like “NCIS” and “Blue Bloods.” We also cannot forget “Yellowstone” and its many spin-offs which glamorously preserve the American Dream and the rural setting.


Source: Paramount/Facebook

“Yellowstone” is probably the perfect conservative fantasy. While most liberals ignore the violence and politics of “Yellowstone,” the juggernaut soap-opera can hold a candle to most prestigious HBO shows.

Why Do More Conservatives Watch “Yellowstone”

According to a New York Times article, “Liberals aren’t watching ‘Yellowstone’ for cultural reasons, and conservatives love it for ideological ones.”

A group of men sitting around a fire while another man is burned with a brand in "Yellowstone"

Source: Paramount/YouTube

“People on the left like more pop culture than people on the right,’’ sociologist Clayton Childress at the University of Toronto said. “And people on the left don’t dislike what people on the right dislike.”

“Yellowstone” Isn’t a “Red-State Show”

“Yellowstone” doesn’t target conservatives as much as it wrestles with both progress and its own internal conflicts. In fact, the show creatore Taylor Sheridan has pushed back on the idea that “Yellowstone” is a conservatoire prestige drama, telling the Times in 2019, “The people who are calling it a red-state show have probably never watched it.”

A close up of a man in a black cowboy hat in "Yellowstone"

Source: Paramount/YouTube

The show is very much the Westerns from the 1970s that many of us loved growing up, and shaped the idea of the American West  in pop culture.


Why Do More Liberal Audiences Not Watch “Yellowstone”?

Maybe the reason “Yellowstone” and its spinoffs resonate strongly with the conservative crowd is because the liberal audience does not want to watch a series that purposefully lacks the sophistication of an HBO show or through a genre that thrived in the 1970s and the aggression of men.

A man with a towel over his shoulders sitting next to a man out of focus in "Yellowstone"

Source: Paramount/YouTube

However, “Yellowstone’s” beauty and inclusivity create the grounds for complex show that is entertaining, even if it is rehashing themes and ideas of a bygone era.


Netflix Has More Diverse Options

While Paramount+ can boast about the dream of taming the American West and cowboys, most streamers (and Hollywood) have a liberal bias.

Two teenage boys looking at each other as they look at a map of Paris in 'Heartstopper'

Source: Heartstopper/Instagram

Netflix has backed plenty of LGBTQ-friendly shows both on and off the streaming platform, such as “Queer Eye” and “Heartstopper.” Sure, there are conservative friendly shows and films, too, like “Extraction” and “Stranger Things,” but the streaming giants tend to keep everything cool and neutral.


Max Has Been Trying to Appeal to Middle-America

Max, on the other hand, has been strongly pushing for a more conservative friendly option over the last two years. After CEO David Zaslav took the reign as Warner Bros. Discovery president, he advocated that the streaming service should appeal to Middle America.

The white text against a blue background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a former executive at Warner Bros. put it to The DailyBeast, Zaslav and Discovery is “very ‘all’ audience, [they] don’t wanna make things that are political, topical, alienate Middle America—more Chip and Joanna,” they said, referring to the home renovation show “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home” hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines.”


Almost All Americans Have a Streaming Service Subscription

Despite Zaslav’s plea to appeal to a larger audience, Max–the hybrid streaming service between HBO and Discovery, falls far down the list of top streaming platforms for Americans.

A man and a woman sitting on a yellow sofa watching TV

Source: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

With 99% of all U.S. households paying for at least one or more streaming services, it isn’t shocking to discover that the difference between viewership’s political party is so slim, with the greatest difference being about 5 percent.


The Biggest Streaming Platform Is…

The study also reveals that the biggest streaming platform in the U.S. is Netflix with 80.13 million subscribers in the U.S. (via Forbes). While this isn’t exactly shocking news, it is significant as the streaming service saw a near 13 percent growth over the last  year.

A mug sitting in front of a TV while the Netflix logo plays

Source: John-Mart Smith/Pexels

Despite Netflix raising their prices and kicking out viewers who are not in your household, the streaming service is America’s go-to place to watch TV and films at home.


Streaming Services Provide Neutral Ground

While Democrats are more likely to watch more films, shows, and content than conservatives, that does not mean they reject media Republicans like.

A woman with long brown hair drinking from a mug while looking down on her laptop

Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

No matter what your political party is, streaming shouldn’t rely on your political taste. Let the algorithm find what you’ll enjoy, and keep watching!