nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

The young mostly disengaged from live TV

weekly time spent with live TV by age

New data from Hub Entertainment Research highlights how quickly SVOD is supplanting live TV viewing. No surprise that the focus of these changes is in the young, who are now almost completely disengaged from live TV.

Spoiled for choice

In its new report Decoding the Default, Hub says that the average number of TV sources available to each viewer has increased from 3.7 in 2014 to 4.5 in 2018. There are no prizes for guessing from where the growth has come: SVOD services like Netflix and HBO Now.

Between Q4 2014 and Q4 2017, the number of people saying they use an SVOD service increased from 53% to 68.2%.[1] What’s more, the number of pay online video services taken by the average US SVOD home stands at 3.8. Averaging the number of SVOD services across all US homes, not just those that take them, yields 2.6 SVOD services per home. Combining the SVOD usage data with the Hub data suggests the average US home has two traditional TV sources (linear TV, DVR, or on-demand) and 2.5 SVOD services.

Live TV not the first choice for most

Hub asked survey participants which TV source they went to by default. Only 39% said live TV was their default, down from 50% in 2013. DVR usage was also down over the same period, from 21% to 14%. Conversely, 22% said Netflix, up from 13% in 2013.

There are many signs that live TV has fallen out of favor with US consumers. The number of cable, satellite, and telco homes has fallen from 99.6 million in 2013 to 92.5 in 2018. In 2011, there were 100 million homes with ESPN. By Q1 2018, that number had fallen to 86 million, losing 500,000 in April 2018 alone.

roku daily minutes spent streaming to Q1 2018


At the same time, usage of connected TV devices has grown prodigiously. For example, the 20 million active Roku devices delivered 2 hours and 40 minutes a day of streaming media to users in Q1 2018. The average Netflix account delivered 1 hour and 15 minutes of video per day in Q3 2017. In many Roku and Netflix, homes live TV is likely not the first place people turn when they want to watch something.

Netflix more popular than live TV with the young

Hub says that the young are the focus of the shift away from live TV. Just 26% of 18-to-34-year-olds consider live TV as their default service. On the other hand, 35% of them say Netflix is their default TV service.

That said, every age group has moved away from live TV in the last year. For example, the number of 55-and-older adults that consider live TV their default service fell from 66% in 2017 to 56% in 2018. Those in that age citing Netflix as their default increased from 5% to 7%.

The decline in live TV usage by the young has been underway for some time. Between Q2 2014 and Q2 2017, weekly time spent watching live TV among 18-to-24-year-olds fell from 17 hours and 18 minutes a week to 11 hours and 22 minutes, a decline of 34%. Those 65 and older watched almost four-times as a much live TV in Q2 2017 per week as 18-to-24-year-olds.

Why it matters

The decline in TV viewing doesn’t only mean that people watch less. They also rely on TV less as a primary source of entertainment.

The trend has progressed so far that most young people are disengaged from live TV.

[1] TiVo Video Trend Reports for Q4 2017 and Q4 2014


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.