Video Trends: Netflix is Closing in on Pay-TV as Consumer’s “Default” Choice for TV

The way in which people consume video continues to change – and rapidly, according to streaming services vs. pay TV research from Hub Entertainment Research. In a survey of television watchers who subscribe to broadband, the firm found that 64% of respondents subscribe both to traditional pay TV and one or more streaming service. The other 36% is evenly split between traditional-only and streaming-only.

Despite the fact that streaming-only subscribers still are less than 20%, that number is gradually trending upwards – and growth is accelerating. The number of streaming-only subscribers increased from 9% in 2014 and 2015 to 11% in 2016 and 2017. After dropping back to 10% in 2018, it increased to 14% last year.

Hub says that the top four streaming firms are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+. More than half of respondents subscribe to two or more services. The breakdown: 27% of respondents have none, 23% have one, 22% have two, 18% have three and 10% have all four.

Default Choice for TV

The percentage of respondents\who predominantly use online sources for programming hit 60% this year, versus 40% who get their programming mostly from pay-TV, including live TV, DVR or VOD. The proportion was 52% for online versus 48% traditional pay TV last year.

Netflix, the biggest streaming service, is closing in on traditional pay TV as what Hub calls the “default source” for viewing. This year pay TV serves that purpose for 30% of respondents and Netflix for 23%. That’s quite a change from 2016, when pay TV dominated (48% to 15%). The numbers gradually closed: 47%/19% in 2017; 37%/23% (2018) and 34%/21% (2019).

Another key trend is that the percentage of respondents who say live TV is their default continues to drop. Among 18- to 34-year olds it went from 21% to 14% this year. The drop was 37% to 34% among 35 to 54 year-olds and 53% to 46% among those 55 year old or older.

Hub Entertainment Research also asked respondents which service they would keep if they could only remain subscribed to one. Among all respondents, live TV was the survivor for 35% followed by Netflix (32%), Hulu (16%), Amazon (13%), and Disney+ (10%).

Among those who called Netflix their default, 61% would keep it if they could only keep one. That was followed by Live TV (56%), Hulu (53%), Amazon (50%) and Disney+ (43%).

The firm surveyed 1,600 television watchers from 16 to 74 years of age who watch at least one hour of television per week and subscribe to broadband.


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