22 MAR 2022

Do consumers really know what each streaming service offers?

As the number of streaming TV services grows, consumers remain largely unclear about what each one offers, according to new data from Hub Entertainment Research.

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As the number of streaming TV services grows, consumers remain largely unclear about what each one offers, according to a new report from Hub Entertainment Research entitled “Evolution of Video Branding,” which tracks awareness, familiarity, and understanding of top brands in the TV marketplace.

Although consumers do not have a strong understanding of many television streaming brands, they tend to be more confident describing brands that they feel focus strongly on a particular set of genres. Interestingly, the TV streaming service considered to have the strongest genre focus is Disney+, beating out even ESPN+ on this measure. Rounding out the top five services seen as having the strongest genre focus are HBO Max, Discovery+ and AMC+.When consumers are asked which genres they associate with each service, two of the Big 5 SVOD platforms stand out as having a unique content image. For those feeling Disney+ has a strong genre focus, the top three genres cited are kids’ content, theatrical films, and fantasy/supernatural. Notably, these findings emerge right around the same time that Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, committed, during the company’s February earnings call, to expanding Disney+’s catalog of non-kids, non-superhero, “general entertainment” programming. Hulu, on the other hand, is seen as strong in dramas (also cited as a top genre for Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Max), but also in adult animation and anime.Furthermore, the top 5 SVOD TV platforms have succeeded in making their services virtually household names. In fact, 96% or more TV consumers have heard of Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max.However, these services have been less successful in communicating their distinct value propositions — what exactly they offer and how they are different from competing services. TV consumers are most likely to say they would feel “confident” describing what Netflix offers to someone else (80%). However, no more than about two-thirds feel they could describe each of the other four “Big 5” SVODs.Name awareness is also high for newer, more niche SVOD services, but no more than half of consumers understand what makes each one distinct. For instance, 85% have heard of Peacock, Paramount+, Discovery+, Apple TV+, ESPN+, and AMC+, but Peacock is the only service in this group where a majority feel they know enough about the service to describe it to someone.

Meanwhile, consumers essentially see FASTs —free ad-supported TV streaming services— as one large, indistinguishable category. For most FASTs, name recognition is not a big problem: for all but Xumo, 7 in 10 or more have heard of the service. Nevertheless, as popular as FASTs have become, with the exception of the Roku Channel, no more than one-third of TV consumers understand what each offers.“TV services have been ramping up their ad spending in recent years. In fact, the number of streaming service ad impressions more than doubled between 2019 and 2020. As a result, virtually everyone has heard of most of the TV streamers in the market today. But those ad initiatives have not been nearly as successful in helping potential users understand why they should sign up for any given service,”  said Peter Fondulas, Principal at Hub and co-author of the study.

The data cited here come from Hub’s “Evolution of Video Branding” study, conducted among 1.601 US consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of television per week. The data was collected in February 2022.

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