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Disruptive Pandemic TV Trends Continue

HBO Max
(Image credit: WarnerMedia)

BOSTON, Mass.—New survey data from June 2021 shows that a variety of disruptive trends in video that took hold during the pandemic are continuing, with consumers reporting that they are more likely to pay to watch blockbuster films at home and the number of people watching VOD or PPV content at home continuing to rise, according to the newest wave of Hub Entertainment Research's "Predicting the Pandemic" study.

The survey found that in June of 2021, two thirds (65%) of those surveyed said they watched free VOD included with their subscription at least once a week (up from 46% in February 2020) and that the popularity of pay per view movies continued to rise, with 39% reporting that they bought or rented films in June of 2021, more than double the 19% figure in February 2020 prior to the pandemic lockdowns. 

With theaters closed down and consumers having more time to fill, viewership of premium VOD of movies still in theaters surged during the pandemic, a trend that has continued as more theaters are opening. In July 2020, only a fifth of respondents said they had paid to stream a movie that skipped the theater because of COVID.  By June 2021, this number had risen to a third.

Viewers also reported they had better equipment at home – both for watching movies and accessing them. Among those with a smart TV, almost 40% said they had bought a smart TV during the pandemic (i.e. during 2020 or 2021) and half of that 40% said they had bought a smart TV after vaccines became widely available in April 2021.

In June about two-thirds of moviegoers said they expect streaming at home to become a regular part of their consumption of new movies and among those who intend to watch new movies in the next year, an equal number say they intend to mostly stream at home (38%) as say they’ll mostly go to the theater (36%). About a quarter (26%) intend to use both equally.

“Before the pandemic, more viewers were already paying a premium to watch new movies at home,” said Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub and one of the study authors.  “HBO Max and Disney poured more gas on the fire by redefining the release window for new movies.  Add in the fact that many upgraded their home viewing tech during the pandemic, and we have perfect conditions for driving consumption of PVOD even after anxiety about theaters has faded completely.”  

The data cited here come from the fourth wave of Hub’s “Predicting the Pandemic” study, conducted among 3,000 US consumers age 14-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week. The data were collected from June 22 to June 29, 2021.

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George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.