How We Watch Video

TiVo recently released its Video Trends Report for the fourth quarter of 2019. TiVO tracks the content that people watch using quarterly and biannual surveys. This latest report comes from surveys given to 6,145 households in the US and Canada.

One of the most surprising results is that the average household that uses online video now watches almost seven different sources of video. This includes the typical sources of video like Netflix and Amazon Prime, but it also includes social media sites like Facebook, free viewer generated video from sources like Facebook and Snapchat, and free movie services like Pluto TV, Crackle, Tubi TV, and Vevo. 31% of homes still watch no online video.

vMVPDs (Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors) are services like YouTubeTV, Hulu+, AT&T TV, and SlingTV. These programmers are still struggling to gain and hold market share. In the last year, PlaystationVue went out of business. AT&T TV and YouTube TV have lost customers. SlingTV and Hulu+ are growing modestly, but are not growing at the same pace that homes are cutting the cord. TiVO postulates that low adoption is due to price sensitivity since the services have all raised rates in the last year.

The shift from traditional cable TV to online programming continues. In 2019 57% of homes watched at least 1 hour per day of traditional live TV – a number that was over 90% a decade earlier. The percentage of homes that watch at least 1 hour per day of online content has grown to 56%. 39% of homes still watch content from a DVR (hardware or online) at least one hour per day.

Local content is still important. 63% of homes say that at least 10% of their daily viewing is of local content. Of that group, 65% watch on Pay TV or an antenna, 16% watch on social media apps, 9% watch online.

Comedy is still king among genres with 59% of respondents saying they watch comedy series. Drama came second at 55%, followed by Crime/Mystery (43%), Suspense/Thriller (39%), Documentaries (37%) Action Adventure (37%), News (34%), and Science Fiction (30%)

Interestingly, the popularity of watching video on mobile phones dropped a bit in 2019, at least measured by the video apps that people carry on their phones.

Subscribers to traditional cable TV report that they are still considering cord-cutting. 77% of the homes in the survey still have traditional cable TV (which is in line with FCC data). Almost 15% of them say they are planning to cut the cord in the next six months. TiVO’s been getting that same level of response to the cord-cutting question since they started asking the question, but most of the people saying they will leave don’t cut the cord. Only 34% of those cutting the cord say they will pursue a vMVPD, so the majority plan to walk away from the traditional cable channels.

70% of potential cord-cutters are citing price as the main reason to drop traditional TV, down from 80% the year before. This might reflect the realization that many cord-cutters don’t save money. 14% of potential cord-cutters say they plan to use only a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. 23% say they intend to cut back to using an antenna.

When asked what they’d be willing to pay for a la carte individual channels, people cite prices between $1 and $2.50 for various channels – much less than what the channels that are offered online are priced at.

People still use a wide variety of devices to watch video: smart TV (31%), Roku (21%), Amazon Fire Stick (19%), Gaming Consoles (19%), Google Chromecast (10%), and Apple TV (9%).

People are still struggling to find new content. 35% find new content through suggestions made on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Most people still find new content through advertising. A little over half of people use text search to hunt for shows, but only 60% of them think text search works well. People have not adopted voice search and only 18% of households use it.

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