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HubResearch Default Source TV Viewing Oct2021When US consumers have free time for entertainment, there are more who opt to watch TV and movies (29%) than those who prefer to socialize (22%), spend time with gaming, social media or online videos (20%) or spend time outdoors (10%). This is per a report [download page] from Hub Entertainment Research, which also found that 55% default to watching TV and movies through online sources as opposed to pay-TV.

The survey of more than 1,600 US consumers ages 16-74, all of whom have broadband and watch at least one hour of TV per week, indicates that a growing share are heading online first when they want to watch TV. Back in 2019, fewer than half (47%) chose online (any online or OTT source) as their default source for TV viewing, on par with those who said pay-TV was their default source. Last year, online (50%) surpassed pay-TV (42%), and this year, the gap has widened further, with only 39% of viewers defaulting to pay-TV for their TV viewing needs.

For some time now, Netflix has been gaining steam in terms of becoming the go-to source for TV viewing. However, the gap between the share of those who consider pay-TV their default TV source (39%) and those who opt first for Netflix (20%) has leveled off, with the percentage point difference between these two sources remaining the same as it was in 2020.

Although Netflix accounts for the largest share of time spent viewing among other top streaming services and two-thirds of SVOD subscribers in the US, it’s not without its competition. That said, as far as being a go-to source of TV viewing, its place is fairly secure, at present. Case in point, only a collective 15% share of consumers say their default TV source is another member of the “Big 5” such as Hulu, Amazon, Disney+ or HBO Max, compared to the 20% who go to Netflix first.

In any case, when given the option to keep only one source of TV, live TV (35%) and Netflix (28%) remain the top two indispensable TV providers.

Younger Audiences Default to Streaming Services

Among the age groups analyzed, it’s no surprise that older consumers are still the most loyal to pay-TV. Almost half (48%) of respondents ages 55+ say that live TV channels from cable, satellite or teleco are their default TV viewing sources, compared to just 11% of 18-34-year-olds. Even so, the share of consumers in the older age group who consider pay-TV as their go-to viewing source has decreased from 2019, when 53% said as much.

Recent research from Leichtman Research Group indicates that adults ages 18-34 account for 41% of daily SVOD users. The latest survey from Hub Entertainment Research shows that, as far as this age group’s default TV viewing source is concerned, 31% share selected Netflix. However, there is evidence that other streaming services are nudging in, as Netflix’s share of this age group’s default source has decreased since 2020 (39%) and 2019 (37%). In the meantime, those who say that they default to the “Big 5,” excluding Netflix, has grown to a 24% share — up from 16% in both 2020 and 2019.

To find out more, an excerpt can be found here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,616 US consumers with broadband, ages 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week. Data was collected in August 2021.

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