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Understanding consumer choices in the evolving TV market

May 26, 2023 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Consumers grapple with an overwhelming array of choices and confusion in an era of rapidly evolving streaming services. The streaming landscape has recently witnessed significant shifts, with established players like Netflix and Disney+ introducing ad-supported tiers, Peacock discontinuing its free tier, and anticipation around the impact of Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing.

In this context, HUB’s Best Bundle study aims to shed light on how consumers adapt to the evolving TV/streaming space and land upon the the ideal combination of services that suit their viewing needs. It delves into the extent to which viewers opt for linear versus on-demand services, ad-supported versus ad-free experiences, and subscription-based versus free streaming services. By examining these variables, the study aims to decipher consumers’ choices when constructing their personalized bundles.

The research shows a notable decline in the average number of TV sources used by respondents from 7.4 in 2022 to 6.4 in 2023. This decline suggests that consumers are consolidating their streaming services and opting for a more streamlined approach to their TV viewing experience. While the average of TV sources declined, the overall demand for streaming services remains robust.

Though the use of streaming remained the same compared to last year, responses with an MVPD bundle dropped to 55% versus 62% in 2022. Consumers continue to embrace streaming as their primary source of entertainment, and the decline in the number of sources used does not imply a decrease in consumption. Instead, it signifies a more focused and curated approach to streaming, where viewers prioritize quality over quantity.

Evolving landscape

Interestingly the largest segment of viewers (63%) continues to be those who utilize a combination of traditional and streaming TV sources. This remains consistent with last year (64%) and indicates that traditional TV sources remain relevant in the face of the streaming revolution.

The study reveals that 27% of viewers plan to add a subscription to their existing lineup, which is higher than the figure in 2021 (21%). While this shows a continued consumer interest in expanding streaming options, it also suggests a slight decrease from the previous year, as 33% of viewers intended to add a subscription in 2022.

Furthermore, more than half of respondents (57%) state that they have utilized at least one free-with-ads (FAST) TV service, which aligns with 2022 findings. This suggests that despite the proliferation of subscription-based services, free platforms with advertising support continue to attract many viewers. Cost-saving advantages of free services are attractive, and advertisements for access to content are tolerable.

The study also highlights a decline in the percentage of viewers who use three or more of the largest subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms. In 2023, only 43% of viewers report using three or more of these SVOD services, compared to 50% in the previous year.

Hub’s Best Bundle research points to a nuanced streaming landscape, with viewers seeking a balance between traditional TV sources and streaming platforms. While streaming services are immensely popular, traditional TV sources still play a significant role in viewers’ entertainment consumption. The addition of new subscriptions indicates that viewers are willing to explore and invest in streaming services, although the growth rate has slowed slightly compared to previous years. Further, as the streaming landscape continues to evolve, service providers must take note of viewers’ shifting preferences. Streaming platforms can attract and retain viewers in an increasingly competitive market by offering diverse content, personalized recommendations, and competitive pricing.

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