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Streaming First TV Stop For 50% of Viewers: Study

(Image credit: Hub Entertainment Research)

In another sign of the big changes taking place in the television business, 50% of consumers said the first place they go when they want to watch TV is a streaming service, according to a new study from Hub Entertainment Research.

A year ago in a similar study, 47% of consumers said they first went to either a streaming on-demand service like Netflix, a free service like Pluto TV or a virtual MVPD like YouTube TV.  

Pay TV was the default service for 42% of consumers surveyed, down from 47% a year ago.

The pull of on demand streaming is so strong that 23% of cited Netflix as their first choice versus 30% who said live TV via a traditional pay TV service.

The trend is especially strong among young consumers, with just 14% of those in the 18-34 demographic calling pay TV their first choice, down from 21% a year ago.

But Hub noted that pay TV won’t die easy. When consumers were asked if they had to drop all of their TV services but one, the top answer with 35% was live TV from a traditional pay TV distributors, topping Netflix with 32%. But among people who picked Netflix as their first stop, 61% said they’d keep Netflix. Among those who called live TV their default, 56% said that would be the one to keep if they could only keep one.

According to the Hub survey the top reason for selecting a service as their first choice is because they have the viewers favorite show. They also want it to make it simple to find something to watch and the ability to watch live shows.

“We’ve seen a significant boost in streaming TV service subscriptions since the start of the pandemic in March of this year,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “But perhaps more significant than the simple increase in online subscriptions is the profound shift in consumers’ viewing behaviors generally. Instead of reaching first for the cable remote when it comes time to watch TV, more and more consumers are defining TV viewing, first and foremost, as viewing on streaming services. Whether that shift persists once the pandemic crisis has passed is, of course, the billion-dollar question.”

Hub’s Decoding the Default study was conducted in August  among 1,600 U.S.  consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week.