Netflix replaces live TV for young viewers, says report

NetFlixNetflix has replaced live TV as the default television source for young viewers, marking an important shift in consumer behaviour, according to new research.

Hub Entertainment Research’s ‘Decoding the Default’ study claims that 40% of viewers aged 16-24 use Netflix as their “home base” for watching content, with only 26% defaulting automatically to live TV. 

For millennials aged 18-34, live TV was ahead but only just, with 33% opting for live TV first, compared to 31% who choose Netflix.

“A change in default sources is not the same as completely cutting a pay TV provider. However we think it’s an important psychological threshold,” said Hub principal analyst and one of the study’s authors, Jon Giegengack.

“People love choice – but when it comes to TV, there are more alternative sources than any one person could use. They crave a home base, and the position of ‘first source turned on’ will be an increasingly enviable one as the market evolves.”

Overall, the study – which polled 1,200 US TV viewers with broadband, aged 16-74 – found that live TV is still the single most common default viewing source, with 34% turning this on first when they want to watch TV.

However, the research said this share is “dropping significantly”, and is down 16 percentage points from 2013 when 50% of viewers named live TV as their default.

Online sources now account for almost as much viewing share as live TV and DVR, combined, according to the research – which claims viewers now allocate 32% of their total TV viewing to live TV, 15% to shows on their DVR and 46% to online platforms.

Live TV was found to be the go-to source for channel-surfing, with 40% of viewers picking this compared to 27% for Netflix when they don’t know what they want to watch. However, when viewers said they have a specific show in mind they want to watch, 26% reported Netflix as their default viewing source compared to 15% who said live TV.