Online services increasingly first source for US TV viewers | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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A study from Hub Entertainment Research has found further demonstration that TV consumers are most loyal to the TV service they treat as their viewing home base.
HUb Ent Res 20Sep2022
Hub’s latest Decoding the Default study - conducted in August 2022, among 1,600 US consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week – found that across the entire TV viewer base, live TV from a traditional pay-TV service remains the most common first stop for viewing, with 28% noting that linear channels from a cable, satellite, or telco TV subscription is their TV home base.

However, it also found that SVOD leader Netflix came a close second, at 23%, while no other individual source reaches double digits. Moreover, the study highlighted However, live TV has been dropping steadily as a default source over the past seven years, and is at its lowest point since we began measuring default sources.

Even though live from traditional TV still hung on to a slim lead as the top individual default source, online sources in general dominate traditional pay-TV sources in general. This dominance has increased since 2021: 57% made an online source their TV home, up from 55% in 2021, while 38% default to a source from a pay-TV set-top box: live, DVR or VOD, the latter down from 39%.

That said, Hub also observed that Netflix reached a saturation point as a default in 2018 (23%) and has been fluctuating around that level ever since. By contrast, the other leading streaming subscription services were found to have made more consistent gains. While no single rival service in the so-called Big 5 group came close to leader Netflix, in combination they were now just 7 points behind.

The study also noted that the decline in linear viewing from traditional pay-TV services were not helped when considering linear services from virtual MVPDs, actually showing an even more pronounced decline for live TV in general as the first stop for TV. Hub noted that the percentage turning first to vMVPD had not risen above 6% since it started measuring in 2015 and that overall, the percent defaulting to any live TV subscription is only 32% in 2022, 3 points lower than in 2021 and 7 points lower than in 2019.

Another key finding was that choice of default service varied dramatically by age. Among 18-34 year olds, 38% make Netflix their first viewing choice—more than 3 times the proportion who default to a traditional live source. However, half of 55+ year-olds turned first to pay-TV linear channels, more than 5 times those who made Netflix their first viewing stop.

When asking consumers which of the TV services they currently have would they keep if they had to drop all services except one, among all subscribers to a traditional pay-TV service or each of the Big 5 SVODs, anywhere from 8% to 37% name each as the service they’d hang on to if they had to drop all others.

“At a time when the typical TV consumer uses an average of 7.4 different sources of TV content, simple penetration of a service in the marketplace is no longer a reliable measure of long term service success,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the Decoding the Default report. “A much better predictor is how much consumers engage with each service they have—and in particular, which they consider their TV viewing home base.”