How Viewers Find Content

Since 2012, the number of original scripted shows introduced each year has been increasing at a dizzying pace. Past studies have found that most consumers are happy with this embarrassment of riches, saying they spend more of their time than ever before watching shows they “really like”.

But is it possible to have too much of a good thing and do viewers even know where to start?

These questions made it more important than ever to understand (1) how consumers decide what to view, and (2) how to make sure content cuts through the clutter, so shows have a chance to even be considered. Hub Entertainment Research embarked on a study in October 2017 called Conquering Content. The goal was to find out why viewers discover and choose some content over others.

Hub conducted an online survey among 2,214 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who have broadband access at home and watch a minimum of 5 hours of TV per week. The survey yielded the following findings:

Online has overtaken pay TV as the home of favorite shows: For the first time, more people say they watch their favorite show on an online platform than through a pay TV source. See Figure 1.

Diffusion of content continues to reduce the impact of network brands: About 40% of respondents say network brands are not a big factor in which shows they watch and almost a quarter give it the lowest possible importance ranking.

Pay TV show discovery is driven by advertising, but online shows are spread by word of mouth: Those watching an online show are more likely to have heard about it from another person as opposed to through advertising.

We are approaching subscription saturation: Consumers are managing more subscriptions than ever before, so new services will need to offer compelling content that isn’t available anywhere else.

The past five years have seen the TV landscape change significantly - with ever expanding viewing options, a full pipeline of new content and a fractured system for discovery. As technology and viewing behavior evolve we will see platform consolidation, a niche and genre content focus and a drastic change in bundling of channels and services.

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