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TV Viewers Face ‘Platform Saturation’

NEW YORK—As television viewing options have increased in recent years, viewers have expanded their sources of programming among live linear, subscription video on demand and virtual multichannel video program distributors like YouTube TV, Hulu or DirecTV Now, according to a new report from Hub Entertainment Research.

Viewers now average four different sources of programming, but with new providers like Apple TV+, Disney+ and AT&T’s HBO Max coming online, some viewers are complaining about “platform saturation” and will be reluctant to add any more services without cancelling an existing one, Hub said.

“We’ve seen in our other studies that many consumers won’t add a new service—like Disney+ or HBO Max—without cancelling an existing service,” Hub said. “The services they decide to hold onto are most likely to be the ones they consider their TV home base.”

The data, gleaned from Hub’s “Decoding the Default” survey, involved polling 1,678 viewers who subscribe to broadband and watch at least an hour of TV every week.

In its survey, Hub determined that for the majority of viewers, their first (or “default”) choice when they turn on the television is linear live programming on traditional pay-TV (34%), followed by Netflix at 21% and DVR content from MVPDs third at 11%.

The percentage of viewers defaulting to live linear MVPD is down 7% from 2018, according to Hub, which found that for the first time ever in 2019 the percentage of viewers defaulting to OTT (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, etc.) matches the percentage of viewers defaulting to live linear traditional TV at approximately 45% and 47% respectively.

Viewers’ rationale for picking their default choice are fairly obvious: For those who default to linear live TV, ease of use and familiarity are the top reasons while viewers who choose a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime are mainly attracted to the lack of commercials, the ability to binge watch and variety of program choices.

Regardless of their programming choices, Hub said that the vast majority of viewers still prefer viewing on a big screen.