Data: Peacock Tops Ad-Supported Streaming Service Usage

As the subscription streaming VOD market embraces advertising, new data from Hub Entertainment Research finds that NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform has the highest percentage of ad-supported users.

The data, based on an online survey of 1,600 respondents, age 16-74, in April published by eMarketer, found that just 20% of Peacock users pay the $9.99 monthly fee for no advertising when accessing programming. That compared with 73% who prefer to pay $4.99 monthly to watch ads. Another 8% of respondents weren’t sure what option they use.

Peacock ended the first quarter with 13 million paid subs and 28 million monthly active accounts.

On the flip-side, 67% of HBO Max subs pay $14.99 monthly to avoid ads, while 28% pay $9.99 to watch ads, and 5% don’t know. HBO and HBO Max reached 48.6 million domestic subs through March 31, up 1.8 million from 46.8 million at the end of 2021.

The data comes as Netflix and Disney+ plan to rollout a less expensive ad-supported subscription tier later this year. Netflix, which lost 200,000 net subs in he most recent fiscal quarter, has projected a loss of 2 million net subs in the current quarter, ending June 30. The streaming behemoth is working with third-party platforms to accommodate ad sales.

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Hub Research: Brand Loyalty Key to Streaming Service Differentiation

As the subscription streaming video market tightens, streaming services are upping brand presence and loyalty. According to iSpotTV, ad impressions for streaming services more than doubled between 2019 and 2020. New research from Hub Entertainment shows that awareness is almost universal, even for relatively new platforms.

And with so many options, differentiation matters more than awareness when it comes to enticing new subs and lowering churn. In 2020, HBO Max announced that Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2021 slate of theatrical movies would be released on HBO Max the same day as theaters. This blew up the windowing paradigm and outraged many creatives, whose total compensation was predicated on the box office. But it was hugely effective at drawing subscribers, according to Hub.

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The data showed a huge jump in HBO Max subs after the announcement. And even though these new movies made up a tiny fraction of the content on Max, most new subs said they were a factor, or even the main reason, that they decided to sign up.

“Advertising and original content aren’t enough any more to differentiate streamers to consumers; brand loyalty will come from building community and creating a must watch viewing experience,” Hub founder Jon Giegengack said in a statement.

Hub Research: Smart-TV Ownership, Usage for Streaming Continues to Grow

Smart-TV ownership continues to climb, with three-quarters (76%) of TV households saying they own a smart-TV, up from 70% a year ago, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s fourth annual “Connected Home” study.

The majority (57%) of all TV sets are now smart sets, a proportion a quarter higher than in 2020 (45%), according to the study.

Consumers are also using the capabilities of smart TVs more, according to the study. In the past, many smart TVs were operated as “dumb” sets — owners plugged them into cable boxes or external streaming devices, bypassing their built-in smart capabilities. But in 2022, more than four in five (86%) smart TV homes reported they regularly stream shows through a smart TV’s built-in capability, according to the survey. That’s a significant increase from 2020 (75%), but it still shows that a notable share (14%, or 1 in 7) of smart TV homes aren’t yet using those sets to stream TV shows or movies.

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Meanwhile, adoption of other smart devices lags. About half of all households now own other smart devices, with 52% of all homes owning a smart speaker (Amazon Echo, Google Nest, etc.) and 48% owning at least one smart home device such as a smart thermostat, smart doorbell, smart lightbulb, etc.

“Growth in smart-TV viewing over the past few years has been supercharged not just by more smart-TVs, but greatly increased use of smart TV apps for streaming,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It has been a long road to get a large majority of smart-TV owners to use those sets for streaming. This is a theme for smart tech overall. It’s not just getting devices into homes, but how can stakeholders get consumers to use the full capabilities of smart devices?”

Hub’s “Connected Home 2022” report is based on a survey of 5,204 U.S. consumers conducted in February 2022.

Hub Research: Netflix Still the Service for Favorite Shows

Netflix is still consumers’ service for their favorite shows among streaming services, but others are catching up, according to  Hub Entertainment Research’s annual “Conquering Content” survey.

In 2017, Netflix was the undisputed king of originals. Disney + and HBO Max had not yet launched, and only 11% of viewers said their favorite show was on Amazon or Hulu.

In 2021, Netflix still accounted for more viewing of favorites than any other major streaming platform, but its share had fallen, while that of the other “Big 4” had doubled.

“At the end of the day, Netflix still creates more content than anyone else and many still consider it their most indispensable provider,” Jon Giegengack, Hub founder and principal, said in a statement. “But as competitors create more originals (and networks reserve their best shows for their own streaming platforms), the competition for share of mind will get tighter. And that pressure will show up in metrics like lean-in viewing before it appears in subscriber numbers.”

Hub: Consumers Ended 2021 Using Almost Six TV Content Sources

The avalanche of linear and online TV, coupled with subscription streaming VOD, AVOD and FAST channels, resulted in the average consumer accessing almost six different sources for TV content, according to new year-end data from Hub Entertainment Research. That’s double the TV access points used in 2018.

Hub attributes the increase to the launch of new streaming platforms; billions being spent on original content; and an enduring pandemic that continues to keep many viewers at housebound.

The report found that with the surge in streaming services available, 40% of consumers today use three or more of the five biggest SVOD services, which include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max. That’s up from 28% just a year ago.

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While each of these platforms offers thousands of titles to select from — more TV shows and movies than the average person could watch even if they did nothing else — the fact that many people are using so many streaming platforms underscores just how tight the competition for viewers’ attention and time has become.

“As the TV experience evolves, SVOD ‘stacking’ has more impact than perhaps anything else,” Jon Giegengack, founder of Hub, said in a statement. “Viewers are excited about the vast amount of content to choose from. But they need an efficient way to manage all those platforms, which creates an opportunity for aggregators. And for those creating and marketing shows, the competition for each slice of disposable time is tighter than ever.”

Study: Consumers Three Times More Likely to Discover New Show on Streaming Platform Than Traditional Pay-TV

Consumers are three times more likely to discover a new show on a streaming platform than on a traditional network, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s “Conquering Content” study.

Among TV viewers who have discovered a new favorite TV show in the past year, 75% say the show they’ve discovered is on a streaming service. Only 21% have discovered a new favorite from a traditional pay-TV source (live, DVR, or VOD). The proportion discovering a new favorite on streaming has increased every year since Hub has been tracking viewing behaviors, while the proportion discovering from a traditional service has declined every year, according to Hub.

Netflix has lost some ground in the past year as the home for favorite shows, while the other “big five” streaming services have gained, according to the Hub study. Netflix is still the single most common destination for new show discovery, named by 35% of viewers. However, after growing each year since 2017, Netflix’s percentage has dipped three points since last year. At the same time, the percent discovering a new show on one of the other top streamers (Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max, or Disney+) has grown two points since 2020.

The study found four in 10 TV consumers said they had signed up for a streaming service to watch a single show or movie not available on any other platform in 2021 — up from 34% in 2020. Meanwhile, 77% of those signing up to watch one show said they ended up keeping the service once they watched.

For the first time since Hub has been tracking, a majority (53%) of TV consumers said they sometimes watch content from a free TV streaming service with ads, such as Pluto TV, Roku Channel, Tubi, IMDB TV and the free version of Peacock. That percentage is up 11 points since last year and 15 points since 2019. While FAST has been thought to be a lean-back experience, FAST viewers said that more than half the time (54%), they tune in to a FAST channel to watch a specific show or movie they know is available on the service.

“Netflix knew what it was doing back in 2013 when it prominently branded ‘House of Cards’ as a ‘Netflix Original,’” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, in a statement. “More than half of TV viewers say that simply touting a show as an ‘original’ makes them more interested in watching, which in turn leads them to sign up for fear of missing out. One burning question is whether viewers will similarly embrace ‘originals’ on FASTs like The Roku Channel (which this year launched a slate of original shows) — or whether those services are fated to be forever associated with older, nostalgia-friendly content.”

Hub’s “Conquering Content” study was conducted in October 2021 among 1,604 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week. 

Hub Research: Online TV Services Have Passed Traditional Cable as Default TV Viewing Source

More than half of TV viewers in a survey said their TV default was an online streaming service — i.e., a subscription-based streaming service such as Netflix, a free streaming service with ads such as Pluto TV, or a live-TV streaming service such as YouTube TV.

That’s according to Hub’s annual “Decoding the Default” study, which since 2015 has tracked the TV source that consumers turn on first when they’re ready to watch.

Online services were 16 points more likely than a traditional cable, satellite or telco service to be consumers’ TV default — an advantage that’s twice as large as it was just a year ago.

In the survey, 55% said an online service is the first source they turn on, up five points from 2020, while 39% said they turn first to a traditional pay-TV service set-top (including live viewing, DVR, or VOD), down three points from last year. The remaining percentages each year default to viewing over-the-air, from an antenna.

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Meanwhile, Netflix has lost momentum as viewers’ default source over the past year. Until 2018, Netflix was on track to surpass traditional pay-TV single handedly as viewers’ first stop for TV viewing. But since then, the proportion defaulting to Netflix has leveled off, and it has actually lost three points since 2020. Although no single other streaming TV service comes close to Netflix as a default for TV, the four other most popular streamers (Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO Max) collectively gained four points in just the past year.

TV default differs dramatically by age. Young consumers were by far the least likely to turn first to live TV channels when they were ready to watch — and the proportions have continued to drop over time. In the survey, barely more than 1 in 10 18- to 34-year-olds defaulted to live channels. But notably, the proportion defaulting to live TV was lower than it was in 2019 in every age group.

Netflix’s overall drop as a default source since last year is especially pronounced among younger viewers. Instead, that group embraced the other streaming services as their top TV destination, with 31% of 18- to 34-year-olds making Netflix their TV home base, down eight points since last year.

Instead, 24% of young viewers turned first to one of the other top five streamers, up an equal eight points since 2020.

“Like most other phenomena in the new TV landscape, the TV sources that viewers’ treat as their TV home base seem to be in a state of constant flux,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Just when it looked like Netflix was set to become the center of consumers’ TV universe, other streamers have stepped up their game to change the narrative.

“What has remained constant, however, is the critical importance of being consumers’ home base for TV in the first place. If and when we reach the point where a critical mass of consumers decides they’ve hit their TV service maximum, the last service to go when viewers begin to scale back is the one service they turn on first.”

Hub’s “Decoding the Default” study was conducted in August 2021 among 1,616 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watched at least one hour of TV per week.

Data: Peacock Earns Viewer, Marketer Gold at Tokyo Summer Olympics

NBCUniversal’s strategy placing key Olympic Games coverage on its Peacock streaming service appears to have paid off for both NBCUniversal and its advertisers, according to new data from Hub Entertainment Research.

According to a survey of 1,016 U.S. consumers ages 16 to74 conducted Aug. 4-8, about their viewing of the Olympics as well as their attitudes toward the games and its sponsors, 50% of Peacock Olympic viewers said they thought the commercials added to their enjoyment of the games, compared with just 36% of NBCUniversal Olympic viewers overall.

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Interestingly, 71% of respondents said ads shown during the Olympics were more interesting than what (55%) of NBC Olympic TV viewers felt.

Peacock also played an important role in upping NBCU’s Olympic audience numbers. Among Tokyo Olympic viewers, about 12% said they watched the Games on Peacock. Notably, Hub said Peacock-only viewers accounted for almost 10% of NBCU’s total cumulative audience. Peacock was also more popular in younger demos important to advertisers

Percentage of Olympic viewers on Peacock by age:

16-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

65-74

13%*

14%

15%

9%

6%

*To be read: 13% of Olympic viewers age 16-24 said they watched on Peacock

Base: Olympic viewers in each age category

 
Hub found that 75% of Peacock Olympic viewers were current subs; 25% had never used Peacock or were lapsed subscribers. Although not definitive due to a small sample size, of these Peacock Olympic viewers who were not current subscribers prior to the Olympics, most say they will continue to watch Peacock after the Olympics.

“NBCUniversal has a long history of using the Olympics as a media lab to experiment with new services, and this year was no different with their promotion of Peacock as an Olympic coverage destination,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “The findings from our survey indicate this strategy brought NBCU new users to sample Peacock; perhaps just as important are our findings that those who watched on Peacock have a more positive attitude towards Olympic advertisers and sponsors. It appears to be a win-win for NBCU and its clients.”

Co-Viewing Apps Attract Younger Viewers

New TV research from Hub found that streaming apps with co-viewing baked in, as well as third-party apps, prove popular with young audiences.

Hub Entertainment Research’s third annual “Evolution of the TV Set” report  found a quarter (23%) of viewers say they have watched via a co-viewing app or service this year, up from 2020 (20%) with 41% of viewers age 16-34 saying they’ve used a co-viewing app, compared with 23% of those age 35-54 and only 3% of those 55 or older.

Amazon Watch Party is the most commonly used co-viewing app (44%). The next most popular apps are two adapted from other uses: Discord, popular among gamers (28%), and Zoom, the web meeting service made ubiquitous by the pandemic (27%).

Those age 35-54 (57%) are more likely to use Amazon Watch Party (AWP) than co-viewers age 16-34 (37%), and men (52%) more likely to use AWP than women (31%).  Young co-viewers age 16-24 are less than half as likely to say they use AWP than adults 35-54 (24% vs. 57%). And one-third (33%) of those 16-24 use Discord, compared with one-quarter (26%) of older viewers age 35-74.

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“Co-viewing apps and services are becoming increasingly important, no doubt driven in part by recent pandemic experiences,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Content distributors and streaming services that help enable this behavior will increase their appeal to young adults overall, and in particular young men. This is an important consideration with the advent of fully or partially ad-supported streaming services and the desirability of these key demos to advertisers.”

Hub’s “Evolution of the TV Set 2021” report is a survey of 2,519 U.S. consumers. Interviews were conducted in late May and early June 2021.

Report: AVOD Popularity Undermines Perceived Anti-Ad Bias

One of the appeals of SVOD has been the lack of commercials. However, new data on AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, suggests consumers could be changing their mind and commercial interruptions — for the right price.

Hub Entertainment Research revealed new data that contends less than 20% of survey respondents absolutely refuse to stream content with advertising. Indeed, 95% of all TV consumer respondents said they watch some programming with ads. Another 79% stream content from at least one ad-free platform.

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The Massachusetts and New Hampshire-based research firm contends that almost 50% of Netflix subscribers polled said they would watch pre-roll ads (ahead of programming) if their monthly service fee dropped to $5 or less. The percentage of subscribers opting for ads injected into the programming declined to 39%.

“What’s clear from these findings is that what matters to consumers is not whether ads are included in the content they watch, but how ads are delivered,” said Mark Loughney, senior consultant and co-author of the study. “Even consumers who say they’re categorically opposed to ads will use an ad-supported platform if the price and ad delivery are right.”

Indeed, among respondents who were opposed to any type of advertising, 30% said they would accept advertising if the monthly subscription savings was from $4 to $5 dollars.

Finally, among respondents who said could not tolerate commercials within programming, 57% said they would be more likely to try AVOD distribution — a percentage that was higher than among respondents more receptive to advertising.