Live TV continues to be the most common default source for TV viewers, but its once commanding lead over SVOD platforms has shrunk drastically over the past five years, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s annual “Decoding The Default” survey. Smart TV apps have also made strong gains, and are now at parity with set-top boxes as a launch point for viewers.
Live TV remains the top default source, but just barely: among 46% of consumers, live TV still tops as the viewing default, but it continues to decline relative to SVOD services, and it now leads by only a single percentage point. The increasing availability of live content on online platforms is likely helping live TV retain its top spot, Hub notes.
The report also remarks that online sources have widened their lead over set-top boxes as a first stop. In fact, online nearly doubles set-top boxes as a default source of TV viewing. Plus, the gap has increased from only 13 points two years ago to 28 points in 2013.
In just the past two years, smart TV apps have caught up with set-top boxes as viewers’ starting point. In 2021, almost twice as many viewers started to watch through a set-top box as chose a built-in smart TV app. Currently, however, those two sources are on par as the default. It is also noteworthy that viewers are sticking with their connected devices, which have shown no decline as a home base over the past two years.
Live sports and news are critical in the decision to use MVPDs and vMVPDs as default viewing sources. This, according to Hub, underscores the importance of live sports and information as hedges against cord-cutting for MVPDs and vMVPDs.
At the same time, consumers are considerably more loyal to their default TV sources: a majority of those who default to a Big 5 SVOD or live TV on an MVPD say it is the provider they would retain if they could keep only one.
“In order for providers to retain customers in the competitive streaming video marketplace, it is critical to be a first choice for viewing. As viewers are increasingly defaulting to online video sources and relying on apps as a starting point, it is essential to be among those that are installed on smart TV menus,” commented Mark Loughney, Senior Consultant to Hub Entertainment Research.
These findings are from Hub’s 2023 “Decoding The Default” report, based on a survey conducted among 1.601 US consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week. Interviews were conducted in August 2023 and explored consumers’ default options for video sources, and how those have changed over time.