As consumers move toward multi-platform viewing, live TV is continuing to decline, found Hub Entertainment Research in a study titled “Decoding the Default” released Friday.
“We’ve been watching live TV drop steadily as a default source since we first conducted this study in 2013,” said Peter Fondulus, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, in a statement. “But this is the first year where we’ve seen a sharp drop among older consumers too, which has huge implications for the monetization of linear TV in general. As online, on-demand platforms continue to become mainstream, live viewing has become the exception rather than the rule.”
According to the study, the average consumer has 4.5 different sources from which to choose when watching TV, including linear TV, digital video recordings, video on demand, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. That number has increased from an average number of sources of 3.7 in 2014.
Younger viewers aged 18-34 have even more choices at an average of 5.1 different sources. Half of viewers 18-34 subscribe to two or more of the biggest streaming services—Netflix, Hulu and Amazon—and 35 percent of that group say that they default to Netflix.
As a result, only 39 percent of overall viewers — and 26 percent of 18-to-39-year-old viewers — say that live linear TV is their first choice when it comes to TV viewing. That’s down 8 percent among viewers from last year, when 47 percent reported that they defaulted to live linear TV, and down 9 percent among adults 18-39 from 35 percent. More and more, consumers are turning first to on-demand, time-shifted TV.
Among older viewers, 56 percent of those older 55 do still default to watching live. But that’s down from year ago as well, dropping from 60 percent.
“There are categories where live TV still fills a vital role — especially news and sports, as well as ‘channel surfing’ without anything specific in mind, said Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub and one of the study’s authors. “But the skyrocketing variety of on-demand content means that occasions where consumers must follow a linear schedule to see content they care about are growing fewer and farther between.”
“Decoding the Default” was conducted in June among 1,933 U.S. consumers with broadband who self report that they watch one hour or more of TV per week.