Hub Research: SVOD, Led by Netflix, Gaining on Live-TV Viewership

The use of smart-TV apps to access subscription streaming video has resulted in SVOD services cutting into the use of legacy live TV, according to new data from Hub Research. While live TV continues to be the most common source for TV viewers, its once commanding lead over SVOD has shrunk drastically over the past five years, according to Hub’s annual Decoding the Default survey — conducted in August among 1,601 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week.

Nearly 50% of survey respondents said live TV still tops their preferred viewing. But legacy pay-TV continues to decline relative to SVODs, and it now leads by only a single percentage point.

The increasing availability of live content on online platforms is likely helping live TV retain its top spot, due to the fact that online nearly doubles set-top boxes as a default source of TV viewing. The gap has widened from 13 percentage points two years ago to 28 percentage points in 2023.

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In 2021, almost twice as many viewers started to watch TV through a set-top box compared with using a smart-TV app. Currently, however, those two sources are on par as the go-to method to watch TV. Hub found that viewers are sticking with their connected devices, which have shown no decline as a home base over the past two years.

Live sports and news are critical in the viewer decisions to use MVPDs and vMVPDs as default viewing sources.

This underscores the importance of live sports and news as hedges against cord-cutting for pay-TV and virtual pay-TV platforms, because viewers are considerably more loyal to their default TV sources. A majority of those who defer to one of the top five SVOD services (led by Netflix), or live TV on a pay-TV platorm, say it is the provider they would retain if they could keep only one access point.

“In order for providers to retain customers in the competitive streaming video marketplace, it’s critical to be a first choice for viewing,” Mark Loughney, senior consultant to Hub, said in a statement. “As viewers are increasingly defaulting to online video sources and relying on apps as a starting point, it’s essential to be among those that are installed on smart TV menus.”

FIFA: World Cup Qatar 2022 Soccer Producing Record-Breaking TV/Streaming Viewership

The Nov. 26 World Cup Qatar 2022 group play soccer match between Mexico and Argentina (which Argentina won 2-0) generated more than 2 million viewers on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform — the highest number ever for a World Cup match. The streamer also saw streaming audiences of 1.1 million for the U.S.-Iran match, won by Team USA; and 1 million for the 1-1 tie between the U.S. and Wales.

Peacock, Paramount+, Prime Video and Apple TV+ have aggressively licensed streaming rights to soccer, including Apple inking exclusive rights to Major League Soccer in the U.S.

Team USA enters the knockout round of the World Cup on Dec. 3 in a match against the Netherlands.

The World Cup 2022 streaming numbers pale in comparison to live television, which continues to generate record viewership and continues to underscore the appeal of live sports broadcasts.

The English-language coverage of Team USA’s encounter with England on Nov. 25 was the most-watched men’s soccer match on U.S. television ever, with a peak audience of 19.65 million viewers on Fox Sports, according to FIFA, the sports governing body. NBC-Universal’s Spanish-language coverage of the match on Telemundo was the second most-watched FIFA World Cup group stage match featuring a United States team in Spanish-language history.

The Telemundo broadcast in the U.S. was the most-watched FIFA World Cup Group Stage match in Spanish-language history in the country, and the second-largest of any stage, ever.

The world’s most-popular sport continues to resonate, especially in key World Cup matches between select countries.

For example, FIFA said that in Japan, the group game between Japan and Costa Rica on Nov. 27 drew an average audience of 36.37 million viewers. This surpassed the audience of the team’s comeback against Germany in their tournament opener by more than 10 million, and was 74% higher than the average domestic group stage audience during the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

On Nov. 28, 65% of people watching TV in Spain saw the country’s national team take on Germany in one of the most anticipated games of the tournament so far. The match ended in a 1-1 tie.

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Moving to Disney+

After 30 seasons on ABC,  “Dancing With the Stars” is moving to Disney+.

The series received a two-season pickup and will premiere exclusively on the streaming service in the United States and Canada this fall, making “Dancing With the Stars” the first live series to debut on Disney+.  

“’Dancing With the Stars’ has entertained fans for 16 years on ABC, and we are excited to bring this beloved show exclusively to Disney+ as the platform’s first-ever live series,” Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement. “The show’s broad appeal, as well as the overwhelming popularity of its Disney-themed competition nights, make Disney+ the perfect home for ‘Dancing with the Stars’ while continuing to expand our demographic reach.”

“’Dancing With the Stars’ has been a beloved staple on ABC for 30 seasons and brought so much joy to millions of viewers,” Dana Walden, chairman of entertainment for Walt Disney Television, said in a statement. “As we’re significantly expanding our unscripted slate at ABC, this is a great opportunity to introduce this show to a whole new generation of fans on Disney+.  We’re so grateful to our incredible partners at BBC Studios and look forward to continuing our relationship with them on this spectacular series, which will continue to be overseen by Rob Mills and the talented Walt Disney Television Alternative team.”

“The fact that our iconic global format ‘Dancing With the Stars’ will now set the record as the first live series on Disney+ represents a major growth opportunity and a bold next step forward in the evolution of the franchise. This unprecedented move, combined with our two-season pick-up, is a testament to the proven power of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and a resounding vote of confidence from our great, supportive partners at Disney, showing how much they value and believe in the brand,” Valerie Bruce, GM, BBC Studios, Los Angeles Productions, said in a statement.

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Produced in front of a live audience by BBC Studios’ Los Angeles production arm, the show pairs celebrities with trained ballroom dancers to compete in themed choreographed dance routines. “Dancing With the Stars” first premiered on ABC in 2005. During its Fall 2021 run, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” ranked among the top five unscripted series with adults 18-49.

Hulu Live TV Price Jumping by $10 a Month

The price for the Hulu Live TV service will increase by $10 a month, Hulu announced.

The skinny bundle will jump from $44.99 a month to $54.99 starting Dec. 18.

“The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu + Live TV and allows us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming included in the plan,” read a Hulu statement.

The service features more than 60-plus live TV sports, news and entertainment channels, including ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, FX, TNT, Bravo and all major broadcast networks.

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“Price changes are never easy to stomach, and we know that many people don’t watch live television year-round, so we’ve made it easy for Hulu subscribers to switch back and forth between our plans to best suit their needs,” read the Hulu statement. “If you love college football, choose Hulu + Live TV during the season, then switch to one of Hulu’s less expensive on-demand plans when it’s over. If you enjoy most of your TV on demand but really want to watch live election news, just switch to Hulu + Live TV for a few months.”