Hub quizzed 1,700 regular TV viewers between 16 and 74 with broadband in their homes during the month of October about how they find and watch their favorite programs. Hub defines a “favorite” show as one
For the second straight year, digital sources eclipsed the pay-TV bundle as the place where viewers watch their favorite shows. In 2018, the gap widened, with online sources garnering a 56% share, compared with 44% for via a pay-TV set-top box, whether live, on demand or via DVR. (In 2017, the difference between the two platforms was four percentage points.)
Netflix for the first time emerged as the No. 1 source for watching favorite shows, with 32% of respondents saying they use the streaming service compared with 26% using traditional live TV.
Of course, many Netflix shows are available only on Netflix (ditto for Amazon Prime, Hulu and others) so in some respects it’s not comparing apples with apples. But Hub sought to acknowledge that by leaving the study open-ended, asking respondents to volunteer their favorite shows they returned to repeatedly within the past year. The most mentioned shows included broadcast titles like This is Us, The Good Doctor and The Good Place, as well as Netflix original Ozark and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Further down the list were library titles like The Office.
Advertising and marketing was another interesting aspect to the findings, with social media and word of mouth triumphing over traditional advertising. For shows watched online, word of mouth and social media was how the most viewers (35%) said they found out about shows. Just 29% learned about the same shows via traditional advertising. For shows watched the old-fashioned way — via the pay-TV set-top box — the opposite held true, with 54% of viewers discovering shows as a result of advertising, compared with just 20% via social media or word of mouth.
“These findings illustrate how content that’s available online spreads more efficiently – from person to person, rather than being driven by marketing spend,” said Jon Giegengack of Hub. “So far, this has mostly benefited streaming platforms. But it also suggests that making at least some episodes available on demand is an effective way to help new linear shows cut through the clutter.”