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March 1, 2020

YouGov’s Ratings Reveal That Streaming Services Have Unique Demographic And Media Preference Footprints

YouGov, an online market research company, maintains a panel of over 8 million international respondents whose opinions about the media (and other topics) are publicly available through their website. Their topline findings on the popularity of TV networks, for example, can be looked at by sex and generational group, or by correlation between people who are fans of a particular network and which other networks they also prefer. We thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at YouGov’s findings for the most popular streaming services and see how they varied by demographics and media preferences. Please note that because the methodology behind YouGov’s definitions is quite detailed, we’ve included them at the end of the article.

Per YouGov’s polling, Netflix is by far the most popular streaming service, ranking 3rd in popularity among all TV networks (including broadcast and cable) and 1st and 2nd among Millennials and Gen Xers, respectively. The rankings fall off sharply, with Hulu ranking 15th overall, all the way down to YouTube TV, which came in 46th.

As shown in the first table, when it comes to sex and age groups, however, there isn’t a huge degree of variation between the different streaming services; the general pattern is that women and younger generations have more positive opinions of all of the streaming services, although it should be noted that less than half of respondents rated YouTube TV positively. There were some peaks, however, with women indexing highest in their positive opinion of Disney+, and Hulu coming out on top with Millennials. 

The takeaway from this is that streaming service audiences are not monolithic in nature; it seems that each has a distinct profile when it comes to media preferences, which seems to us to be an area ripe for exploration by linear networks who are trying to hold their own in an increasingly digital landscape.

When we turn to what other networks’ fans of each streaming service like, the picture becomes more nuanced. Here, YouGov looks at which other networks “fans” of a particular service have strong positive opinions of, compared to the total population (see the definitions at the end of the article for a fuller explanation). Below are the top 10 ranking networks for each of the streaming services covered in the first table, with the exception of Disney+, for which data are not yet available. Taking a look at Netflix fans, for example, we see broadcast networks ABC and CBS making the top 10, as well as PBS. Given that Netflix is the closest to a “mass appeal” service (compared to the rankings of the other services), it’s not surprising that such networks are also popular with its fans. On the other hand, Hulu fans, many of which are Millennials, favor niche networks like Adult Swim and MTV2, as well as networks that appeal to their children (Disney Jr.). Interestingly, Amazon Video fans lean towards channels catering to tweens and teens, like DisneyXD and TeenNick, perhaps reflective of the service’s slightly better appeal to GenX households with older children. Finally, YouTube TV presents the most unique profile, with a distinct liberal bent, as well as networks catering to African Americans (BET), Latinos (Telemundo) and women (WE TV).

Other TV networks liked by Netflix fans (sorted by z-score correlation intensity)

1. HBO

2. Amazon Video

3. Hulu

4. Nick Jr.

5. ABC

6. Nickelodeon

7. CBS

8. PBS

9. Showtime

10. Comedy Central

Other TV networks liked by Hulu fans (sorted by z-score correlation intensity)

1. Netflix

2. HBO

3. Amazon Video

4. Cartoon Network

5. Disney Jr.

6. Paramount Network

7. MTV Classic

8. Adult Swim

9. MTV2

10. Sprout

Other TV networks liked by Amazon Video fans (sorted by z-score correlation intensity)

1. Netflix

2. MTV2

3. Hulu

4. Bloomberg Television

5. Disney XD

6. Disney Jr.

7. Cinemax

8. HBO

9. E!

10. TeenNick

Other TV networks liked by YouTube TV fans (sorted by z-score correlation intensity)

1. MTV Classic


3. Disney Jr.

4. BET

5. WE TV

6. VH1

7. Telemundo

8. Fox Sports 2

9. NBC

10. CNN

Terminology as defined by YouGov: 

Positive Opinions/Fans: The positive popularity score…is calculated by taking the proportion of people who view something positively and showing it as a percentage of all of the people who have given any opinion about that thing, including “have heard of”.

Z-score correlation: We use a statistical method called a Z Score, which helps to highlight what is particularly true of fans compared with another group of people. Crucially, the top Z Score doesn’t necessarily show the majority opinion of the group, but what is most different about the opinions of that group compared to the general population. For example, if we take a group of 1,000 people that like a certain mobile application and see that 20% of them are fans of David Bowie and we take another group of 1,000 people (e.g. a nationally representative group) and find that only 15% of them are fans of David Bowie, in this case, even though just 20% of people that like the mobile application are fans of David Bowie (which isn’t a majority) we are able to see that compared with the rest of the population, the people who like that mobile application are more likely to be fans of David Bowie.

In Brief: Is 646,152 a Number that Matters?

Much has been made about a recent datapoint from Nielsen’s latest total audience report: across all forms of “television” (both linear and streaming), there were 646,152 unique programs available to viewers. That’s a huge number, but does it really matter? As Rick Porter pointed out in the Hollywood Journal (2/11/20), “That's every series (current and past), movie, special, news program, sports telecast and kids' show that ran on one platform or another, from broadcast networks to Netflix to niche streaming services.” Indeed. As anyone who’s sat in front of their TV (in whatever form that is) and toggled through title after title looking for something to watch, switching from Netflix, to HBO Go, perhaps to their DVR and then to one of the million little free channels on Roku, there’s a lot of garbage out there. And most of it never makes much of an impression. While that’s bad news for the little guys, the major networks and services—ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox, the larger cable channels—and the biggest streaming platforms have the budgets to promote their fare and make sure that their latest edgy or critically-acclaimed show gets seen. The bazillionth rerun of I Love Lucy isn’t really going to affect that. Ultimately, they are each others’ fiercest competition, and it’s within this much-smaller realm that the battle for eyeballs is really fought. For more on the current state of television and digital, check out our just-released reports TV Dimensions 2020 and Cross-Platform Dimensions 2020.


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