How many services does it take to meet viewer TV needs? At least 4, survey says

With new and existing content spread across a broad and diverse set of streaming options for U.S. consumers to pick from, just how many does it take before the majority feel satisfied that their TV needs are met? At least four, according to new survey data from Hub Entertainment Research. 

And even then, only a little more than half (53%) of those with 4-5 feel their combination of streaming services meet their TV lineup needs “very well.” It takes eight or more services before a strong majority (69%) feel that way.

The survey results, released Wednesday, look to dispel questions raised by some about future growth of streaming services following Netflix’s disappointing Q1 results and expectations for additional subscriber losses in Q2, and show that streaming is very much alive and well with consumers.

The survey was conducted in April among 1,600 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week.

The average number of TV sources consumers use has been climbing since 2018 when it stood at three, to hit an all-time high of 7.4 in 2022, according to the Hub.  That figure encompasses not only SVOD streaming but traditional pay TV, live TV streaming, and free streaming services, among others.

In 2022 the percentage of TV consumers that subscribe to three or more of the five biggest streaming TV services nearly doubled what it was just two years prior. The survey shows 50% subscribe to three or more services among Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max and Disney+ (versus 28% in 2020), with 17% subscribing to four and 13% using all five.

Hub chart streaming services 2022

And the appetite does not seem to be waning. More than three-fourths of survey respondents plan to add additional services in the next six months. For those that said they plan to take on more services, 77% said they’ll also keep their current TV services.

“Netflix’s subscriber loss in Q1 of 2022, and its anticipated losses in the following quarters, represent a tiny proportion of its global subscriber base,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “And in fact, at some point, a service as widely penetrated as Netflix has only so much room left to grow.

In the Hub’s view “it would be a grave mistake to take the Netflix experience as a sign that streaming TV services are on the verge of decline,” Fondulas commented.

“The lure of buzzworthy exclusive content, and the sheer convenience of on-demand viewing, are two powerful forces that should keep these services growing at least for the near term,” he continued.

That said, there is data from Nielsen showing that while American’s average weekly time streaming video continued to rise, consumers are becoming more overwhelmed with the number of services. Nielsen found 64% of viewers want a bundled streaming service, and 46% said it’s harder to find the content they want because of too many available services.

The new survey from Hub also lends itself to earlier observations and data from MoffettNathanson that when it comes to cutting the cord for streaming services – access to content is increasingly becoming a key factor.

Most cord cutters still cite the expensive cost of traditional pay TV as the primary reason for the shift to streaming, according to the firm’s April 18 report which leverages HarrisX data on U.S. video consumption, but the second most important driver is “all the shows I currently watch are available on streaming services.”

And based on The Hub data, most users need a handful of platforms before getting their TV fill.