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After loading up on streaming TV streaming services as a reaction to stay at home orders, American viewers’ consumption of streaming services is evolving to established behaviour says a study from Hub Entertainment Research.
Hub Ent Res 24 March 2021
The Predicting the Pandemic research was conducted in February 2021. among 3,008 US consumers age 14-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week. It found that fundamentally in 2020, most US TV consumers said they were watching more hours of TV than before the pandemic. And with new streaming providers offering a steady diet of TV and movie content, their TV viewing has ramped up even further, embracing all flavours of streaming services and find less and less need for traditional pay-TV.

Just over three-quarters (77%) of TV viewers in February 2021 said that they were watching more TV now than before the pandemic—7 points higher than in November 2020. Moreover, 42% said that they were watching a lot more TV now than pre-pandemic, also up considerably compared to last year.

The surge in viewing was accompanied by TV consumers taking the opportunity to tinker with their DIY TV bundles. Just over two-fifths (44%) of all TV consumers added at least one TV service during the pandemic, a full 10 points higher than in November. At the same time, a quarter dropped a service—a proportion that has also been increasing since last summer.

Not surprisingly, the subscription most likely to have fallen into the “dropped” category was traditional pay-TV service, whether cable, satellite, or telco. Consistent with Q4 2020 reports from industry analysts, just over two-fifths (62%) of TV consumers subscribed to traditional pay TV service, down 9 points since just last November. Use of live TV streaming services (vMVPDs) has grown slightly since the beginning of the pandemic, making up for some of the loss in traditional pay-TV subscriptions.

By stark contrast, subscription to the five most popular streaming services continued to climb since pre-Covid, with HBO Max up dramatically since November. HBO Max continued to benefit strongly from the decision to stream all 2021 Warner Brothers movies on the day of theatrical release—including the release of Wonder Woman 1984 in December 2020. The proportion of consumers who had purchased a first-run movie on streaming has increasing steadily since last summer, kick-started with the streaming release of Mulan in September.

Among those who have added a TV service during the pandemic, post-Covid loyalty is strongest for Disney+ - 77% of those who signed on since Covid indicated that they'd keep it; only 7% would drop -  and Netflix (73% vs. 4%).

Free, ad supported streaming services (AVODs) also showed impressive growth in the survey. The proportion using any AVOD has increased more than 20 points since before the pandemic, thanks in no small part to the launch of the free version of Peacock.

Commenting on the findings of the Predicting the Pandemic research, Hub principal and report co-author Peter Fondulas said: “What’s been most interesting to us in our pandemic-related research has been trying to determine which pandemic-induced changes in TV behaviour will persist once life begins to return to normal,” said “This wave of the study strongly suggests that Americans have grown more than just accustomed to the TV viewing adjustments they’ve made during the pandemic, and are ready to embrace a new, streaming-centric normal.”