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In August 2021, HUB Entertainment Research surveyed of 1,616 respondents aged 16-74 who have broadband and watch at least one hour of television weekly to find out what TV platforms they are most likely to turn to first when they want to access content. The results were published in the report, Decoding The Default: Which Providers & Platforms Do Consumers Turn On First When They Want To Watch TV? While the subject of the report (“the default”) is certainly of interest—and available on HUB’s website—we focus here on the phenomenon of “stacking,” which HUB defines as having/using multiple SVOD subscriptions.
To begin with, the report trended the type of TV services respondents have. As shown in the table below, the proportion of consumers with only traditional TV access decreased almost 38% between 2015 and 2021, whereas the proportion of streaming-only consumer increased 137% in the same time frame. However, the lion’s share of consumers report using both types of services; where the percentage using both was 61% in 2015, this rose to an all-time high of 71% in 2021.
Furthermore, among those with SVOD subscriptions, the number of people who “stack” services (have multiple SVOD services) increased significantly between 2018 and 2021, with 63% of respondents currently reporting that they have two or more of the major SVOD services.
Why is this important? Because this shift to the use of multiple platforms has affected how consumers spend time with television. According to the report, in 2019, those who stacked services spent 48% of their TV time with live TV/DVRs/VOD and 52% of their time with online sources. Just two years later, HUB’s respondents reported spending only 34% of their time with traditional TV and 67% with online sources. That’s a major shift in a short period of time. While pay TV providers may take comfort in the fact that most consumers still have both linear and streaming options in their homes, the fact that the share of time spent with traditional TV has declined so precipitously does not bode well for them. How many people will continue to pay for cable or satellite services when the time they spend using them becomes a smaller and smaller part of their TV diet?
Effectv Insights, a Comcast company, recently released its TV Viewership Report for the first half of 2021. Included in the report were breakdowns of how TV genre viewing is distributed by method of access and device used. As shown in the accompanying table, when it comes to traditional TV versus streaming, traditional TV pulls in a greater proportion of news and sports viewership, which is hardly surprising because streaming has not yet become a major provider of such content (although they are making inroads).
Looking at the data by the type of device used, we were not surprised to see that sports viewership is predominantly done on a TV set. Similarly, news viewing was evenly distributed across TV, mobile and computer, which reflects how viewers check in throughout the day to find out what’s going on. However, the finding that 64% of young adult programming is done on a TV was an eye opener. It was unclear exactly what young adult content is, but we would have expected the proportion on mobile to have been greater.
We look forward to greater detail and explanation in future reports, but for now, it’s another layer of detail to help us understand how content viewership varies by method of access and device usage.