Study: 33% of SVOD Users Sign Up Just to Watch One Show

Free access coupled with a pandemic has created a perfect storm of developments to accelerate the consumer shift toward subscription streaming video as the destination for consumers’ favorite shows, according to a new report.

Hub Entertainment Research, citing data from an October survey of 1,604 U.S. broadband consumers who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week, found a widening gap between online video sources and traditional pay-TV as the go-to platform for new shows.

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Hub found that 68% of viewers watch their new favorite shows online, compared with 26% from a traditional pay-TV source. Netflix continues to be the top individual viewing source for new content, with 38% watching their recently discovered favorite on the SVOD pioneer’s platform. That’s 18% higher than those who watch a new favorite show on pay-TV.

The report cited “dramatic differences” in how viewers discover shows they watch online versus those they watch on pay-TV — the latter typically driven by advertising, while favorites watched online spread organically from person to person.

Indeed, when asked how they first found out about their favorite online show, the largest percentage of respondents (33%) said they heard through word-of-mouth. For favorites watched through a pay-TV platform, the top discovery source (30%) was advertising.

“Online sources are now the clear go-to for consumers’ favorite shows,” Peter Fondulas, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “What’s especially astounding is that Netflix, by itself, is far more likely to be the viewing home for new favorites than all linear networks combined.”

Notably, when asked what streaming service offers more, less or about the same number of original shows as other platforms, other than Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+, half or more of respondents couldn’t venture a guess.

Among those who did have an opinion, Netflix was far and away perceived as the original content leader, with two-thirds of viewers believing that Netflix produces more originals than other platforms. That led to one-in-three respondents saying they signed up for a streaming service to watch a single, exclusive show — most likely from Netflix, followed by Hulu and Disney+.

About 74% of these single-show subscribers decided to keep their subscription after the show has ended. That left 25% of respondents who canceled service once they’ve finished watching the show.

“As new streamers proliferate and as word-of-mouth and social continue to strongly influence the discovery of online content, it’s becoming rarer and rarer for viewers to turn on their pay-TV set-top box when they’re settling in to watch the shows they’re most eager to watch.”

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