Online TV Makes Discovery of New Shows a Greater Challenge—for Both Consumers and Content Providers

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Hub Entertainment Research’s latest tracking study uncovers two side effects of the exponential growth of online TV content: consumers who are both more choosy and more in need of guidance.

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Online platforms play an important role in the success of linear TV shows, especially among younger consumers.

New research shows that while TV consumers appreciate the greater content choice offered by online viewing options, they also have a strong need for tools to make all of that content easier to use.

According to the 2014 wave of “Conquering Content”—Hub’s annual study on how consumers find and choose new TV shows—adoption of online TV sources continues to climb. 83% say that they use at least one online TV source, up from 77% in November 2013.

The growth in TV options makes consumers more selective about what they watch:

  • 81% say that thanks to new TV options, more of their viewing time is spent on TV shows they “really like” than was the case in the past.
  • Only 13% “graze”—try new shows that look even a little interesting—vs. 29% who say they only try a new show if they’re sure they’ll like it.

This combination of near-unlimited choice and greater selectivity leads to a significant unmet need: an easier way to discover shows across platforms. And consumers make it clear that providers that can offer this capability will gain share:

  • 60% agree they “need a universal listing that lets them find shows across all TV sources,” vs. only 9% who disagree.
  • 48% say they are more likely to choose sources that make discovery of new shows easy, vs. only 9% who aren’t.

In fact, there’s evidence that online content is a critical part of the discovery process for shows on live TV:

  • 61% of viewers—and 72% of Millennials—say that they have watched a show on live TV that they first discovered and watched online.
  • This is even more common among subscribers to Netflix (68%) and Hulu Plus (73%).

“The bottom line is that consumers are now realizing both the benefits and the challenges that come with massive amounts of content available instantly,” says Jon Giegengack, co-author of the study. “Even the choosiest consumer can find more of their favorite types of content than they have time to consume. But almost unlimited catalogs mean that viewers need, and increasingly expect, tools to make discovering shows they’ll love a manageable task.”

“Changes in how consumers watch TV mean that the discovery process is more important than ever,” says Peter Fondulas of Hub. “Given that 80% of consumers binge view at least some of the time, each viewing decision has the potential to dictate a much greater share of viewing time than the next 30 or 60 minutes.”

About this Research
“Conquering Content” is an annual tracking study among 1,250 US TV viewers with broadband. This data was collected in November 2014. An excerpt of the findings is available for download from Hub Entertainment Research.

About Hub Entertainment Research
Hub Entertainment Research is a market-research firm with deep expertise in television, movies, video games, music, publishing, and sports—anywhere that entertainment and new technology overlap. Our work includes The Hub Reports: an annual series of 6 syndicated studies that track key behaviors of TV consumers, and enable decision-makers to anticipate the biggest risks and opportunities in a rapidly changing marketplace. For more information, please visit us at http://www.hubresearchllc.com.

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Jon Giegengack
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