Live TV continues to be the most common default source for TV viewers, but its once commanding lead over SVODs has shrunk dramatically over the past five years, according to Hub’s annual “Decoding The Default” survey.
The issue of where consumers launch their TV services from is important because viewers are most loyal to the sources they go to first. Live TV has always been the most popular starting point, but its share has dropped in recent years to a 46% share. In contrast SVODs and smart TV apps have shown rapid gains, with the top 5 SVOD apps now being the starting point for 40% of consumers and all other SVOD apps accounting for 5%.
That indicates SVOD is only one percentage share point behind live TV, the Hub study found.
The Hub researchers also noted that the increasing availability of live content on online platforms is likely helping live TV retain its top spot as a default source. That's because online sources have widened their lead over set-top boxes as a first stop. Online nearly doubles set-top boxes as a default source of TV viewing. Plus, the gap has increased from only 13 points two years ago to 28 points in 2013.
In just the past two years, smart TV apps have caught up with set-top boxes as viewers’ starting point. In 2021, almost twice as many viewers started to watch through a set-top box as chose a built-in smart TV app. Currently, however, those two sources are on par as the default, the researchers said, adding that it is noteworthy that viewers are sticking with their connected devices, which have shown no decline as a home base over the past two years.
The Hub study also found that live sports and news are critical in the decision to use MVPDs and vMVPDs as default viewing sources.
The study also found that consumers are considerably more loyal to their default TV sources: A majority of those who default to a Big 5 SVOD or live TV on an MVPD say it is the provider they would retain if they could keep only one, the study found.
“In order for providers to retain customers in the competitive streaming video marketplace, it’s critical to be a first choice for viewing,” said Mark Loughney, senior consultant to Hub. “As viewers are increasingly defaulting to online video sources and relying on apps as a starting point, it’s essential to be among those that are installed on smart TV menus.”