TV watchers do not feel compelled to choose between traditional pay TV or online sources of entertainment, instead considering online content to be a complement to traditional TV. According to a survey by Hub Entertainment Research: 73% say that they have watched TV or movies online at least once, and only 3% of TV viewers with Internet access have “cut the cord”—the same percentage as a year ago. The study, which also sheds more light on binge viewing, uncovers what drives consumers to watch content from one source instead of another.

As online sources become more familiar, consumers are becoming adept at building their own TV-delivery bundles, which often combine a traditional cable, satellite, or fiber-optic subscription with content from online sources.

Live television remains the default for 50% of viewers, according to this research. Contrast this finding with recent Nielsen research indicating that 87.2% of broadcast television is watched live.

Hub Entertainment Research surveyed 1,754 TV viewers. The online survey was fielded in March 2013. The survey results were not weighted. Respondents were age 16 to 64 and watched at least 5 hours of television per week, for an average of 22 hours a week. Based on a Researchscape assessment of the questionnaire and methodology, this survey is slightly likely to be representative of U.S. television watchers in general.

Binge Viewing

Which would you say is your “default” source—the one you are most likely to turn to first when you want to watch something?
 Source: Hub Entertainment Research, n = 1, 

66% of TV viewers say they “binge view” at least occasionally watching multiple episodes of a program, back-to-back-to-back.

How often, if ever, do you binge or marathon a TV program—i.e. watch multiple episodes of a program back to back to back?
 Source: Hub Entertainment Research, n = 1, 

People who watch TV online and who engage in marathon viewing have a higher number of favorite programs, which are defined as “shows they make a point never to miss”.

Half of online viewers say that they’ve discovered new shows online that they now watch live. Marathoning may also lead to later watching of those shows on live TV, reinforcing findings from MarketCast, who reported that 48% of binge viewers “strongly agree” that binging gets them caught up on a television series and excited to watch new episodes when they are broadcast.

Have you discovered new shows online, that you then watched on live TV? (% yes by cross-tabulation)
 Source: Hub Entertainment Research, n = 1, 

Viewers chose “features that make it easy to marathon” as the second-most-valuable attribute (out of 18 alternatives tested) that an online TV source could provide.

Online Enhances Traditional TV

People who watch on several devices feel that they get more value from pay TV. People who watch pay TV content on at least 2 devices in addition to their television set are more likely to say that their pay TV subscription provides a good or excellent value: 68%, versus 45% among those who watch only on a TV set.

Online streaming has edged out premium channels as the perceived better value, with 46% of respondents considering it a good or excellent value compared to 32% for premium channels.

Mobile Devices

Tell us how much value for the money you associate with each of the following ways of accessing TV programs, all things considered.
 Source: Hub Entertainment Research, n = 1, 

Mobile devices are changing the way some consumers define a valuable TV-watching experience: 68% of respondents who watch TV on their tablets do so at home. Of those 23% watch on tablets because they prefer the experience of watching that way—even when they have access to a television.

The majority of respondents are reluctant to enter TV subscriber information into mobile apps (“authentication”) in order to unlock full content.

If in the future, if you came to a website or downloaded an app, and it asked you to provide your TV subscriber information in order to access TV programs, would you most likely …?
 Source: Hub Entertainment Research, n = 1, 

For more information on this survey, refer to What’s TV Worth? The full report is $3,500, and includes data on more than 50 networks and subscribers to every cable, satellite, and fiber optic MSO in the U.S.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.