People Still Say They’re Watching More TV Than They Did Pre-Pandemic

January 8, 2021

HubResearch Increase in TV Viewing Due to Pandemic Jan2021One consumer behavior that has come out of the pandemic and shows no sign of reverting back to “normal” just yet is the increased amount of TV people are watching. Recent data [download page] from Hub Entertainment Research from a November 2020 survey shows that the share of US consumers who say they are watching a lot more TV than they did prior to the pandemic had not changed since July.

Back in July 2020, close to 4 in 10 (37%) US TV viewers ages 14-74 said they were watching a lot more TV than they had before the pandemic. When consumers were asked the same question in November, those who said they were watching a lot more TV hadn’t changed. Added to that, another third said they were watching a little more TV than before the pandemic, while just 4% claimed to be watching less.

Although the number of US households that subscribe to at least one subscription streaming service (SVOD) continues to rise, churn has also increased during the pandemic, with 23% of respondents reporting having dropped a service (including vMVPD and MVPD) in November, compared to 18% in July. That said, the number of respondents who reported having added a service also increased (34% in November vs. 28% in July).

The leading SVODs appear to be safe from this churn. Indeed, Netflix (49%) was the service that was most likely to be added during the pandemic, while being the one that the fewest (5%) had dropped the service. Likewise, Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video were all more likely to be added during the pandemic than dropped.

The same cannot be said for vMVPD services: among those who had dropped a service, 50% cited this type of service, while fewer (19%) of those who had added a service reported that it was from a vMVPD provider.

Alongside an increase in TV viewing and streaming, consumers are also buying more Smart TVs. In fact, the percentage of Smart TV users who reported having bought a Smart TV during the pandemic jumped to 26% in November, almost double the proportion (14%) in July.

While consumers use their Smart TV for a variety of activities, research from Conviva found that, globally, the use of Smart TVs to stream video increased by 200% year-over-year in Q3 2020.

Finally, with most cinemas closed and many major theatrical releases postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19 (or going straight to streaming platforms), nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents have paid to purchase first-run movies that skipped the theater because of the pandemic to watch at home. That figure was up from 19% who reported having done so in July.

This percentage is very likely to increase in 2021 after Warner Brothers announced that they will make their 2021 new releases available in the theaters and to stream on HBO Max, simultaneously. Whether there will be a ripple effect with other large movie studios following suit is yet to be seen.

An excerpt of the report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 3,000 US consumers ages 14-74, all of whom watched at least one hour of TV per week.


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