Throughout the history of television, there has always been a distinct benefit to being the source viewers tune to first. In the earliest days, the last channel viewed before the set was turned off had the advantage of being the starting point the next time it was turned on. The power of lead-ins worked on a similar principle, as viewers tended to stay with the following program on the channel their set was already tuned to.
As viewing sources expanded to include pre-recorded programming, on-demand, and streaming, the competition for the viewer’s default has increased, and continues to fuel the streaming wars today. In its latest “Decoding the Default” study, Hub Entertainment Research revealed how rapidly smart TV apps have reached parity with the set top box as a starting point when viewers choose to watch video.
Just two years ago, nearly twice as many viewers began at the set top box as those who started with a smart TV app. But now, they are essentially equal as default viewing options.
Among the viewers who do start at the set top box, live programming, sports, and news are the primary draws.
According to the study, by wide margins, the viewers who use a service as a default are more likely than other users to say it is the one they would retain if they could keep only a single video source. In the highly competitive video ecosystem, no one needs to be reminded of the importance of retaining current subscribers, the report noted.
“With the trend toward more live news feeds and major sports offerings on streaming services, two of the primary drivers for viewers who default to the MVPD set top box are being eroded. As the smart TV menu becomes a primary destination for more viewers, the importance for providers to have their apps installed on TVs cannot be overstated,” said Mark Loughney, Senior Consultant at Hub Entertainment Research.