Hub Entertainment Research: More Consumers Turn to Streaming First for TV Content Selection

Home entertainment consumers continue to embrace streaming video as a coveted source for entertainment consumption on the television. New data from Hub Entertainment Research found that while a majority (28%) of survey respondents still check their pay-TV provider first for content, subscription streaming — led by Netflix — is a close second (23%). The gap between pay-TV and streaming video continues to narrow.

Netflix reached a saturation point as a default choice for content selection in 2018 and has been fluctuating around that level ever since. Rival streaming services have made consistent gains, and in combination are now just 7 percentage points behind.

At the same time, consumers defaulting to pay-TV has fallen to 32% this year, down from 35% in 2021 and 42% in 2019 — based on an August study of 1,600 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week.

“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,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “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.”

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The report also found that the age of the viewer plays a big role in which distribution channel is first activated for content consumption. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 38% of survey respondents make Netflix their first viewing choice — more than three times the proportion who default to a traditional pay-TV source.

At the same time, 50% of those 55 and older first turn to pay-TV linear channels, five-times more than the percent who make Netflix their first viewing stop.

Although content from traditional TV still hangs on to a slim lead as the top individual default source, online sources in general dominate traditional pay-TV sources, according to Hub. And that dominance has increased since even last year: 57% make an online source their TV home (up from 55%) last year, while 38% default to a source from a pay-TV or VOD (down from 39%).


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