Survey: SVoD gains on Live as TV default source

September 13, 2023



Live TV continues to be the most common default source for TV viewers, but its once commanding lead over SVoDs has shrunk drastically over the past five years, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s annual Decoding The Default survey. Smart TV apps have also made strong gains, and are now at parity with set-top boxes as a launch point for viewers.

  • Live TV remains the top default source, but just barely: Among a plurality (46%) of consumers, Live TV still tops as the viewing default. But it continues to decline relative to SVoDs, and it now leads by only a single percentage point.

The increasing availability of live content on online platforms is likely helping live TV retain its top spot as a default source, 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. It’s also noteworthy that viewers are sticking with their connected devices, which have shown no decline as a home base over the past two years.
  • Live sports and news are critical in the decision to use MVPDs and vMVPDs as default viewing sources: This underscores the importance of live sports and information as hedges against cord cutting for MVPDs and vMVPDs, because:

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.

“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.”