Although more viewers are turning to online as their default source for viewing shows, many are still opting for traditional TV. That said, how viewers tend to discover new shows also varies depending on the platform they are using, per a report [download page, free excerpt available] from Hub Entertainment Research.
By and large, for those US consumers surveyed who watched a particular show online, word-of-mouth was the most relevant influence, with one-third of respondents saying they first heard about the show from someone they knew, and another 13% saying they heard about the show through general buzz.
Only about 1 in 8 (12%) report that they first heard about a show they watched online via advertising.
However, more than twice as many viewers who watched a show on pay-TV learned about it first from advertising (30%), making this the leading form of content discovery for pay-TV viewers. By contrast, only 1 in 5 say they first heard about a show they watched on pay-TV from someone they know.
One method of show discovery which is relatively equal between online and pay-TV viewers is good old channel surfing. Some 23% of respondents watching a show on pay-TV and 18% of those watching online discovered it by flipping through channels or the menu.
And, while Hub Entertainment’s survey reveals that pay-TV viewers may be slightly more likely to discover a show through channel surfing, other research shows that when adults do not have a plan for what to watch, they are slightly more likely to search for something to watch online than they are on live pay-TV.
Viewers Turn to OTT for Their Favorite Shows
The share of viewers who watch their favorite new show through pay-TV continues to decrease, while the share who watch through an OTT source has been on the upswing since 2016. Indeed, last year, only about one-third (35%) of viewers watched their favorite show on pay-TV. That share has shrunk to 26% this year.
At the same time, 2020 has seen the share of viewers who watch their favorite show on an OTT platform climb to 68% — up from 63% in 2019. This trend coincides with earlier research that shows that US households are spending an average of 17 hours more per month with OTT content than they did a year ago.
More specifically, the gap between those who watch their favorite new show on live TV compared to Netflix is becoming more distinct. Whereas only three years ago those who watched their favorite show on live TV (31%) versus Netflix (29%) was at near parity, in 2020 almost twice as many watch it on Netflix (38%) than on live TV (20%).
It’s also possible that some of those favorite shows originated on Netflix, considering that research by Hub Entertainment from the beginning of the year found that, of the TV consumers surveyed, the largest share believed that Netflix produced the best original shows.
An excerpt of the report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Results are based on an October 2020 survey of 1,604 TV consumers ages 16-74. All respondents watched at least one hour of TV per week and had broadband.