People’s Favorite TV Shows Are Largely – and Increasingly – on Streaming Platforms

December 1, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Digital | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Television | TV Audiences & Consumption | Video

HubEntertainmentResearch How Viewers Watch Their Favorite Shows 2017 2021 Dec2021

Long gone are the days when Americans had 4 or 5 TV channels to choose from in their quest to find something to watch. Now, viewers in the US have an average of 5.7 TV sources, which opens up a variety of ways to discover new shows. And, per a recent report [download page] from Hub Entertainment Research, three-quarters of Americans are watching their recently discovered favorite shows on an online source.

Despite other research that shows that consumers are finding it hard to find good TV shows or movies to watch, a majority (55%) of the more than 1,600 Americans surveyed for this report — all of whom have broadband at home and watch at least 1 hour of TV per week — agree that there are more good shows to choose from today than in the past. And, viewers are finding these shows somewhere other than pay-TV, with only 1 in 5 (21%) saying they watched their recently discovered favorite show on a pay-TV set-top box.

This hasn’t always been the case. Back in 2017, viewers were about as likely to watch their favorite new show on pay-TV (48%) as on an online source (52%). However, since then, the gap has continued to widen each year.

Separately, while Netflix continues to dominate in subscriber numbers, and remains the top streaming service for watching recently-discovered favorite shows, the gap between it and the rest of the “Big 5” (Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max and Disney+) is narrowing.

Four in 10 Have Signed Up for a Streaming Service for One Show

Earlier research from Hub Entertainment Research indicates that viewers still believe that Netflix has the best original content compared to other streaming services. What’s more, the term “original” has some power. More than half (55%) of respondents say that describing a TV show as “original” makes them at least a little more interested in it. 

It turns out that trailers matter, as well — especially when trying to attract a younger viewer. Close to two-thirds of adults ages 18-34 usually (34%) or always (30%) watch a trailer before deciding to try a show for the first time.

Interest in original or exclusive content has led 4 in 10 respondents to sign up for a streaming service in order to watch a specific show. And, once they have been lured in to watch a specific show, a strong majority (77%) say they have kept the subscription after the show ended.

Uptick in Ad-Supported Viewing

There is also a significant lift over the last two years in the percentage of respondents who watch ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services. More than half (53%) of respondents use this type of streaming service, compared to 38% in 2019. This viewing also seems to be affected by the content in question: a slightly larger share of AVOD viewers watch a specific show or movie that they know is available on the service than watch without having a specific show in mind.

However, while there has been an increase in AVOD viewing, a survey from Morning Consult shows that more than 4 in 10 viewers think there are too many ads on ad-supported streaming services.

An excerpt of the report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings for 2021 are based on a survey of 1,604 Americans ages 16-74 who have broadband at home and who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week. 


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