Survey: One-Third of Consumers Signed Up for a New TV Service Since Summer

From July to November, one-third of consumers in Hub’s “Predicting the Pandemic” research survey had signed up for a new TV service, up six points from the summer.

The second, just-released wave of the study shows how the pandemic has accelerated the already well-established shift to online consumption of entertainment content.

During that same period, one in four canceled a TV service, up five points. All told, 40% had made at least some change to their TV subscriptions by November, nine points higher than in the summer.

The top four streaming services saw the strongest net increases among those who either added or dropped. Netflix and Disney+ were the most likely to see a net gain in November with half of those who made changes to their TV services adding Netflix and one-third adding Disney+. Meanwhile, only single-digit percentages dropped each of these services.

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On the other hand, consumers were much more likely to drop a live TV service than to add one. Half of those who made TV service changes dropped a live TV streaming service (such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV). One-third dropped a traditional cable, satellite or telco TV subscription. Fewer than one in five added either type of service.

Use of free, ad-supported TV platforms (AVODs) continued to accelerate, including the newly launched, free version of Peacock. AVOD use continued the upward trend seen in the summer with the percent using each major service up since July (and use in July was higher than February, before the start of the crisis). Peacock, released to the general public in mid-July, has quickly become the third-most watched AVOD service, behind the Roku Channel and Tubi.

With many films skipping theatrical release due to COVID, consumer purchase of first-run movies from streaming platforms has jumped significantly. One-fourth of all TV consumers in November said they’d purchased a first-run movie from a streamer, up from fewer than one in five over the summer.

Among those who currently owned a Smart TV, 26% said they purchased their Smart TV during the pandemic — up a full 12 points from July.

“If there were any doubts that some of the changes we’re seeing in leisure habits are here to stay, those doubts were erased when Warner Bros. announced that its entire slate of 2021 films would be released on HBO Max at the same time as theaters,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, in a statement. “And with providers like Comcast deciding to impose data caps across its entire footprint as of Jan. 1, it’s clear that many companies agree that streaming content is now the new normal.”

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The hub study surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers, age 14-74, who watched at least 1 hour of TV per week. The data were collected in October and November 2020.

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