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Survey: Customers Eight Times as Likely to Keep a Service They Identifiy as Their Default

David Satin

Hub Research has released its annual “Decoding the Default” survey, which tracks the means people use to watch content, and what they turn to first when they want to watch TV. The survey has a ton of interesting details and insights, including the fact that in 2022, only 28% of viewers say that cable is their default source for TV.

The survey also included some interesting data regarding stacking and customer loyalty. “Stacking” is an industry term that refers to the number of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services a person decides to sign up for. According to Hub’s survey, 80% of streaming customers are signed up for at least one of the “Big 5” streamers — Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO Max — and 45% are signed up for three or more of them. But those numbers haven’t fluctuated from a year ago.

The data suggest that SVOD services may have reached a stacking limit. With inflation hitting American consumers hard, over 25% of U.S. households have cut their streaming or pay TV budgets in the last six months. That’s a big factor in the lack of increase in SVOD service stacking.

The numbers also show how important it is for a streaming service or live TV provider like cable, satellite, or live TV streaming services to be identified as a customer’s default option. The survey asked respondents which service they would keep if they could only choose one.

Despite the decline in traditional linear television, it is clear that live TV still is a go-to for many viewers, and the long-established services with the biggest libraries also provide a good home for many. However, it is interesting to note that as recently as earlier this year, HBO Max was routinely at the top of consumers’ list as their favorite streaming service. However, given recent troubles brought on by the service's new corporate parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, it appears that the premium streamer has lost its place amongst consumer favorites.

In an age where customers have more choices than ever, being chosen as a default TV service is crucial for providers to avoid churn. Viewers who identify a service as the place that they start their viewing are eight times more likely to say that’s the source they would keep if they had to choose just one.

The survey also had some good news for smart TV manufacturers. The number of customers who access streaming apps via their smart TVs has nearly tripled in the last three years. Meanwhile, the share of customers who say they use their non-connected TV first for TV viewing is continuing to decline, reflecting the continuing cord-cutting trend.

The survey’s insights point to one inescapable conclusion for streamers and live TV provers: loyalty is key. Customers who identify their favorite way to watch TV will choose that method a majority of the time. As subscriber growth stalls but time spent streaming continues to grow, metrics that capture engagement may be a better measure of which providers are positioned for success.

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