Study: Content source key when deciding what to watch

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With today’s TV content available from a multitude of sources, does loyalty to TV content sources exist anymore? Hub’s Evolution of Video Branding study explores how US consumers feel about content distributors, devices, networks, and online sources.

Highlights from the study include:

1) When consumers are asked which TV networks and sources they’d keep if they were limited to only a few, Netflix tops the list, by a wide margin.

  • About 4 in 10 say Netflix is one of their indispensable TV sources – 11 points higher than second-ranked CBS.
  • Netflix is even more indispensable to young consumers:
    • 53 per cent of 16-34-year olds consider it a must-have TV source—twice as high as second-ranked Hulu.
    • By contrast, for those 35+, the top three sources are broadcast networks.

2) In just three months since it launched, Disney+ is already among the top must-have TV sources for young viewers.

  • The streaming platforms ranks third among this group, behind only Netflix and Hulu.

3) One reason for viewers’ preference for Netflix lies in perceptions of its ‘original’ shows.

  • First, the simple branding of a TV show as an ‘original’ make consumers more likely to try it than they would otherwise be:
    • Close to 6 in 10 (57 per cent) say calling a show an original makes them more interested in watching.
    • Netflix is the clear beneficiary of this “originals” boost: 1 in 4 say Netflix has the best ‘original’ shows, nearly 4 times higher than second-ranked Amazon.

4) TV source preferences are clear when respondents react to a description of a fictitious crime drama.

  • All survey respondents heard the exact same description of the show, but each was given a different source that would air it. A total of 17 sources were tested in the exercise.
  • Interest in watching the show varied significantly by the source it was associated with:
    • Those told it would be a Netflix show were the most interested, followed by FOX, CBS, and HBO.

5) In spite of all of this evidence to the country, relatively few TV consumers acknowledge the influence of TV sources on their viewing choices.

  • Only 25 per cent of consumers say the network a show is on has a significant impact on their decision to watch (rating 8-10 on a 0-10 scale).
  • A nearly equal 22 per cent say the network makes little to no difference (rating of 0-2).
  • The remaining 53 per cent fall in between, offering a neutral response.

“When it comes to viewing decisions, the impact of ‘brand image’ is a lot like the impact of advertising,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “Most consumers reject the notion that their decision to watch a show is influenced by something as intangible as their general perception of the TV source airing it. But these results demonstrate that brand perceptions play a key role in helping viewers navigate today’s vast TV landscape and decide which shows are at least worth a try.”

The data cited here come from Hub’s Evolution of Video Branding study, conducted among 2,015 US consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week. The data were collected in February 2020.


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