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Survey: 63% of Viewers Use Netflix to Access Online Video

1 Oct, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

PricewaterhouseCoopers study finds strong demand for low-cost streaming pioneer; not so much for its recommendation software or social media

Viewers looking to access video online primarily use Netflix (63%) compared to alternative sources such TV network websites and competing over-the-top platforms, according to a new study from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

According to queries of more than 1,000 respondents and two focus groups conducted during the summer in Los Angeles, 49% said they access TV network websites for online video, 35% use Hulu, 28% use Amazon Prime Instant Video, 25% iTunes, 24% HBO Go, 14% Xfinity, and 11% Hulu Plus, among other sources.

Interestingly, the younger demos (18 to 24 and 25 to 34) favor Hulu because they can access the latest episodes (without having to wait). But they were not as favorable about having to pay (for Hulu Plus) when they could just as easily DVR their favorite TV shows.

“If you’re paying for Hulu, I’m not going to pay for my cable. But since I have cable already, why pay for Hulu?” said one respondent (aged older than 21).

While 57% of respondents prefer on-demand viewing versus live broadcast (47%), just 10% opt for binge viewing — the nonstop consumption of an entire TV season or multiple shows popularized by Netflix.

When it comes to paying for online access to video, predictably viewers aren’t eager to open their purse strings. More than 77% of respondents said they are willing to pay no more than $1.99 per month for their favorite TV show. From this group, 57% said they wanted to pay less than a $1 per month per show.

Original online video programming is important to a majority of respondents (63%), skewing more so to the 25-to-34 age group (72%) and less so to the 50-to-59 age group, of whom 52% said it is not important, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Netflix has series that only Netflix has, really good series, quite frankly. So, that plus my kids, they always watch it. I just watch it for the series. Awesome. It’s definitely worth the $8 a month. And like I said, my kids watch everything on there,” said a respondent (between the ages of 35 and 49).

Social Media: Hype or Helpful?

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may be ubiquitous, but when it comes to finding online video, the platforms rank near the bottom in terms of importance, according to the report.

Just 4% of respondents said they use social media for suggestions of online video programming — only slightly better than Netflix and Hulu at 5%. This compares to 59% of respondents who rely on a family member or friend for programming ideas.

Pay-TV or SVOD?

Despite the push toward digital distribution of video, about 70% of respondents subscribe to a cable operator for their video content. This compares to 41% who opt for Netflix, which is higher than satellite TV (26%), Amazon Prime (18%), iTunes (16%), Hulu (8%) and others (2%).

Thus, cable and satellite delivery remain the primary sources for video consumption. They are the foundation of the TV viewing experience, with basic and premium services offering most customers with much of what they are looking for, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. SVOD services are added to complement or expand on the options cable and satellite provides.

“A ton of people have just your basic cable, because it’s like how my parents still have a landline? That’s like a basic thing that you get with your house. You get gas, you get basic cable and you get water,” said a 21-year-old respondent.

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