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US viewers ‘would rather opt for a la carte TV services’

Netflix lifestyleUS viewers would “strongly prefer” a TV service model where they select, and pay for, only the individual networks they’re most interested in watching, according to new research.

Hub Entertainment Research’s ‘Let’s Get Ready to Bundle’ report found that 53% of US respondents preferred a “pure a la carte approach”, while only 38% said they like today’s common approach of subscribing to tiers or groupings of networks that include those they don’t watch.

When asked to select from a list of 77 TV content brands – which included broadcast, basic cable, premium networks and the SVOD services Netflix, Hulu and Amazon – the average viewer chose 19 brands for their own bespoke TV bundle. Some 68% chose at least one SVOD service, while the most often-chosen TV network was ABC.

When respondents were asked to choose again with an approximate monthly price attached to each network – ranging from US$4-US$7 for broadcast and basic cable networks, US$8-US$10 for premium networks, US$10-US$15 for each SVOD service, and US$20-US$25 for sports networks – the average number of channels picked decreased to nine.

In this instance, the average viewer built a bundle worth US$66 per month, 48% chose at least one SVOD service and Netflix was the most selected brand.

“The current bundled-network approach to TV service gives consumers access to a fairly large number of networks they never watch, networks they assume they’re paying for,” said report co-author and Hub Research principal, Peter Fondulas.

“In their mind, paying for something they don’t use is an instant sign of poor value. They instinctively see à la carte as an ideal solution, although in an exercise like this, they see that per-network prices can add up quickly—and severely limit their viewing choices.”

Report co-author, Jon Giegengack, added: “This research underscores what we’ve seen in other studies: it’s not the price of pay TV consumers object to, so much as how much of that price is going to content that they don’t use.”

The report is based on a survey of 1,500 US consumers with broadband who also watch at least five hours of TV per week. The data was collected in January 2017.