Hub Survey: Traditional Live TV Not Dead Yet

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While streaming has gotten the lion’s share of attention for the past several years, TV viewers are demonstrating that it’s the quality of the content that drives them to watch a particular show, not the destination. That’s the conclusion of Hub Entertainment Research’s annual “Conquering Content” that surveyed the various ways TV consumers discover and watch TV shows.

The survey has some good news for those lamenting the decline of traditional MVPD linear TV services. According to the survey, the percentage of viewers watching live TV from a traditional MVPD service has jumped 6 points in 2022, to 21%, after reaching a low of 15% in 2021. Hub attributes this to the fact that, of the 10 favorite shows viewers named most frequently, four of them—including three of the top four—are available on live TV: Yellowstone, House of the Dragon, Ghosts, and NCIS.

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Hub adds that trend lines showing the rate of viewers who responded that their favorite TV show is on a streaming service opposed to those who cite a traditional MVPD service are flattening. Although 75% of survey respondents said their favorite TV show is online, that proportion is identical to 2021; additionally the proportion watching their new favorite show from an MVPD set-top box has increased two points, from 21% in 2021.

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So much of how viewers find their favorite shows has changed over the years since streaming became more popular. Traditionally, promotional spots during commercial breaks served as the most popular way viewers discovered new shows but in the streaming world, that responsibility falls onto trailers.

In the survey, 63% said they were more likely to watch a new show if they could watch a trailer first and among those who discovered a show from a trailer, 78% said they discovered it from a trailer that auto-played without them deliberately selecting it, up nearly 20 points since just last year.

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Netflix remains the top streamer of choice, according to the survey, however the gap between viewers who watch their favorite shows on Netflix vs. those who watch their favorite shows on a traditional MVPD pay TV service is declining, now at 8 points; 4 points when compared to all five of what Hub identifies as the  “Big 5 SVODs”: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. 

Viewers continue to clamor for an easier way to find new content, according to Hub.  The proportion who agree (strongly or somewhat) that they want a “universal listing to find shows from any source” has always been high in Hub’s survey, but it’s even higher in 2022: 61%, up 6 points since last year.

“Insert overused expression here: “content is king,” etc. But cliché or not, it’s clear from these results that viewers will happily go to whatever platform has exclusive rights to the most popular TV shows and movies du jour,” said Peter Fondulas, Principal at Hub and co-author of the report. “Over the past few years, those shows have been increasingly offered by streaming services. But as franchises like Yellowstone and Game of Thrones demonstrate, streaming does not have a necessary monopoly on buzz-worthy content.”

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.