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:











*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.

Report Claims Netflix Has Best Originals

With more TV shows and movies branded “original” on over-the-top video platforms, not surprisingly SVOD pioneer Netflix leads content offerings, according to new data from Hub Entertainment. The study explores what consumers assume about content labeled “original” and how the term influences viewing decisions.

“So far, Netflix has not only withstood the threats posed by new entrants in the ever-intensifying streaming wars — it has thrived,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Fondulas contends WarnerMedia and Disney’s moves to prioritize streaming distribution are reaping rewards and have the potential to significantly disrupt the TV service pecking order, including Netflix’s first-mover industry stranglehold.

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“What remains to be seen is whether this streaming-first strategy will transform HBO Max and Disney+ into Netflix replacements, or whether they’ll remain as Netflix supplements,” he said.

The data cited here come from Hub’s online survey conducted among 1,606 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week. The data were collected in February.

Simply branding a show or movie as an “original” boosts interest in viewing, especially among young consumers. About 70% of 16-34-year old respondents say the term “original” makes them more interested in watching a show or movie than they otherwise would be — including 25% who say that term alone makes them “a lot more interested.” Older consumers are a bit less likely to be won over by the term “original” alone, but 53% of 35-and-older viewers still say the term boosts their interest.

From all traditional TV networks and streaming services, viewers are most likely to name Netflix as the TV source with the best originals. What’s more, Netflix wins by a wide margin: the percent choosing Netflix (29%) is five times higher than the percent choosing the second-ranked source (CBS, at 6%). Among 16- to 34-year old respondents, the margin between Netflix and the second-ranked source (Disney+, at 7%) is wider than it is among all viewers. But even 35-and-older viewers pick Netflix as having the best originals (24%), with no other source reaching double digits.
Even as Netflix continues to expand its original content catalog, viewers see no evidence of any dilution in quality — on the contrary, they’re three times more likely to think Netflix originals are better now than to think they’re worse. More than 48% of those familiar with Netflix think the service’s original shows and movies are better than in the past. Only 16% feel they’re not as good. The remaining 37% see no difference in quality over time.
For young viewers, the strength of Netflix originals helps make the service their most indispensable content source, by far. When asked to pick the TV networks or streaming sources they’d keep if they could only keep five, 44% of 16- to 34-year olds choose Netflix — nearly 20 points higher than second-ranked Disney+. Those aged 35 an older are most likely to choose CBS in their top-five must-have networks, although Netflix is tied for second with NBC and ABC.
Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+’s announcements about their 2021 exclusive content lineup strongly drove signups to each service. Among respondents who subscribed to each service in December or January and heard Netflix would be releasing a new original movie each week, 88% said that was a reason for signing up to Netflix — including 59% calling it their main reason for subscribing.

Among those who had heard that all 2021 Warner movies would be released on HBO Max on the same day as their theatrical release, 77% call it a reason for subscribing, with 48% saying it was their main reason. Among those who had heard that Disney+ would be the exclusive home for certain new films and franchise titles, 68% name it as a reason for signing up, with 21% calling it their main reason.

Hub said Netflix is well-represented among the 10 titles most likely to have driven subscription, but so is Disney+ and HBO Max.

Research: Consumers Flocked to HBO Max in December to Watch New Movies

Data from Hub Entertainment Research showed strong growth for HBO Max in December, thanks in large part to the Christmas Day release of Wonder Woman 1984.

HBO Max’s share of new TV service subscribers nearly doubled in December, Hub noted, with 13% of consumers who signed up for any TV subscription in December signing up for HBO Max. In November, that percentage was just 7%.

Among those who added HBO Max in December, 19% said they added the service to watch movies — including 12% who signed up to watch “theatrical” movies, according to Hub. The total movie percentage in November was only 3%, meaning December saw a six-fold increase in movies as a reason for subscribing to HBO Max.

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Although Disney+ didn’t see the same level of subscriber growth between the two months (new subscribers held steady), Hub found the reasons for adding Disney+ shifted dramatically in December, on the heels of Disney’s content announcement. Among those who added Disney+ in December, 12% said they signed up to watch movies; in November, the movie percentage was just 2%. In a new question asked in December, 13% said they signed up to watch exclusive franchise content (from Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel) — as frequently mentioned as “movies.”


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.”

One in Four Signed Up for at Least One TV Service During Pandemic

One in four U.S. consumers (28%) said they had signed up for at least one TV service during the pandemic, according to Hub Entertainment Research.

Each of the big four SVOD services has seen a three percentage point or higher increase since just before the pandemic began in February compared to July, according to Hub.

Meanwhile, pay-TV VOD and TVOD saw an increase of six percentage points and three percentage points, respectively, from February to July.

Moreover, consumers said they were likely to continue their same level of streaming TV service viewing, YouTube viewing and broadcast network viewing (especially for news).

“When it comes to the business of entertainment, people clearly intend to continue supporting the streaming TV services they’ve relied on for comfort viewing, the broadcast networks they’ve relied on for news, and the online videos they’ve used for needed distractions,” Peter Fondulas, co-founder and principal of Hub Entertainment Research, said in a statement.

With viewers spending more time watching TV, previews have become a stronger source of TV show discovery during the pandemic, according to Hub. The source is up considerably compared to last year as a method for discovering new shows, while with personal interaction more limited, word of mouth has dropped as a discovery source.

The data cited comes from Hub’s “Predicting the Post-Pandemic” study, conducted among 3,026 U.S. consumers, ages 14 to 74 who watch at least one hour of TV per week. The data was collected in July 2020.

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Report: Young Adults Willing to Buy PVOD Movies

Premium video-on-demand, affording consumers concurrent access to new-release theatrical movies in the home, has been resurrected from its deathbed by studios as a distribution alternative with the coronavirus pandemic shuttering movie theaters.

New data from Hub Entertainment Research finds PVOD is embraced by young consumers, with more than 60% of survey respondents (18-34 years old) indicating they would probably pay to stream a just-released movie.

That interest is nearly non-existent among older consumers (35+), with just 12% indicating interest and only 2% saying they would “definitely” pay for PVOD.

The data comes from Hub’s “Monetizing Video” study, conducted in June among 2,036 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week.

Notably, price doesn’t appear to be an issue for young consumers when it comes to streaming a first-run film in the home. Assuming a price of $15 to stream, 67% of 18- to 34-year-olds would definitely or probably pay. The proportion is virtually the same (65%) at $25. Amazingly, a majority of young viewers (57%) would also be willing to pay $50.

“For younger movie fans … the strong preference for streaming for TV and first-run movies, has the potential to fundamentally shift the entertainment distribution dynamic, assuming the industry is ready to accept the collateral damage —to the pay television and theater industries,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

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Separately, 70% of respondents cited Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video as the best value for the money among all all streaming services. Among traditional pay-TV subscribers (cable, satellite, telecom), only about 40% said they get at least good value.

Respondents on average said they pay $94 monthly for pay-TV/streaming — about $22 more than they would like to pay. Traditional pay-TV subs are the most likely to feel their total TV bill is higher than what’s reasonable, according to the study.

Those who have a cable, satellite, or telco subscription — regardless of separate streaming services — feel they pay $29 more than they should be paying.

For consumers who only have cable, satellite, or telco service, the actual vs. reasonable gap is actually greater: They pay $37 more than they consider reasonable. With an actual/reasonable gap of only $6, consumers who have streaming services only — no pay-TV service — are the most likely to feel they’re paying the amount they should be paying.

“At a time of tremendous economic uncertainty, streaming services with deep catalogs of content fill a critical emotional need for consumers: The need to satisfy their home entertainment needs at a manageable cost,” Fondulas said.