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November 2021

2021 CONQUERING CONTENT

Conquering Content is Hub’s annual deep-dive on the path to TV discovery: how viewers first hear about content, the attributes that lead them to engage with some shows but not with others, and how the process differs by platform (e.g. traditional pay TV vs. streaming) and content (e.g. brand new shows vs. catalog, TV shows vs. movies, scripted vs. unscripted, etc.)

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Conquering Content is Hub’s annual deep-dive on the path to TV discovery: how viewers first hear about content, the attributes that lead them to engage with some shows but not with others, and how the process differs by platform (e.g. traditional pay TV vs. streaming) and content (e.g. brand new shows vs. catalog, TV shows vs. movies, scripted vs. unscripted, etc.)

During COVID, consumers doubled down on streaming:  our annual “Best Bundle” study showed each respondent using an average of 6 TV sources in 2021 (an all-time high.)  In addition, half of all viewers now use at least three of the “Big 5” SVODs.  The end result:  there has never been more content competing for the finite pool of viewers’ disposable time and money.

This research will focus on how key changes over the past year have influenced the way viewers find and choose what to watch.  Some key issues:

  • Deeper stacks: The experience of finding or discovering shows across multiple streaming platforms, each of which includes thousands of hours of content.
  • Aggregators: The increasingly important role of providers that offer a one stop interface from which consumers can access and navigate the full range of services available to them.
  • Exclusive Content: Perceptions of “original” content and the extent to which that content matters in the decision of what to watch next. 
  • FASTS: Free ad-supported services like the Roku Channel and Pluto have accumulated millions of viewers in a short time.  As these providers begin to roll out their own original shows, will viewers have a reason to watch besides “it’s free”?
  • New paradigms: During COVID, once unassailable rules, like the theatrical release window, have been broken.  Have these changes impacted choice of content and provider?  And now that consumers have gotten a taste, can that genie ever be put back in the bottle?

This study will identify how all of these factors affect show discovery, and prioritize the best strategy for show marketers to win and keep an audience in the future.

Source: Interviews with 1,600 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who have broadband access and watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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October 2021

2021 Videogame Consoles

This study will reveal both the threats and opportunities gaming represents for media companies in 2021, as well as provide context by showing how key metrics have shifted since Hub’s Gaming 360 report in 2019.   

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Nintendo’s NES was first sold in the USA in 1986; Sony’s PlayStation in 1995; Microsoft’s Xbox in 2001. Almost every American adult born after 1975 can look back to at least part of their childhood – and all their adulthood – and recall the importance that videogame consoles played in their own lives, their friends’, and their generation’s.

Far from a child’s hobby, the games available on today’s videogame consoles appeal to a wide cross section of consumers. Time spent on gaming continues to occupy an increasing amount of “media time,” especially among younger consumers. And during the pandemic, gaming transcended a past-time to become the cultural meeting place for consumers unable to see each other in person.   The results are clear:  in 2020, global gaming revenue surged to exceed that of movies and North American sports, combined[1].

Game consoles in particular are poised to change more than just the consumption of games: they aspire to be the hub through which consumers find, choose, and consume content of all kinds.  This research will measure how much disposable time gaming consumes, and what other activities and content that share is coming from.  We’ll also look at the extent to which consoles influence or control other entertainment, like streaming video, music, or communicating with friends. And we’ll also look at gaming as an emerging and innovative competitor for advertising dollars.

This study will reveal both the threats and opportunities gaming represents for media companies in 2021, as well as provide context by showing how key metrics have shifted since Hub’s Gaming 360 report in 2019.

[1] IDC, December 2020

Source: 2,601 U.S. consumers age 13-74.

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September 2021

2021 Decoding the Default

Hub’s Decoding the Default study identifies which sources consumers consider their “home base” for TV—the *first thing* they turn on when they want to watch TV

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Hub’s Decoding the Default study identifies which sources consumers consider their “home base” for TV—the *first thing* they turn on when they want to watch TV

Hub first fielded Decoding the Default in 2013, when stacking of TV sources began to take shape, and the question of which sources providers use *first* – not just which they use at all – became important to know.

Over time, this question has become more important.  In 2018, the average respondent in our studies used a total of 3 different TV sources.  In 2021, that has increased to almost 6 sources per viewer.   This growth is being driven by the launch of new streaming platforms, a surge in use of free-with-ads platforms, and a shift by many providers to make their best content available on streaming platforms.

In 2021, we’ll drill down into how viewers’ home base for TV has evolved.  In particular, this year we’ll be able to evaluate the long-term aspect of COVID:  which behavioral changes during the pandemic have become permanent parts of consumers’ viewing habits?

Source: 1,616 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who have broadband access and watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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August 2021

2021 Hub Olympics Flash Study

Findings from Hub Entertainment Research’s study about the Tokyo Olympic Games reveals that NBC Universal’s strategy of placing key Olympic coverage on its new Peacock streaming service appears to have paid off for both NBCU and its advertisers.

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Findings from Hub Entertainment Research’s study about the Tokyo Olympic Games reveals that NBC Universal’s strategy of placing key Olympic coverage on its new Peacock streaming service appears to have paid off for both NBCU and its advertisers.

The study is conducted among 1,016 U.S. consumers age 16-74 year old.

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August 2021

2021 Post Pandemic – Wave 4

The first three waves of Hub’s Predicting the Pandemic research looked at how consumers’ leisure and entertainment behaviors had changed as a result of COVID-enforced confinement. In Wave 4, we’ll explore how those behaviors are likely to change—or have already changed—as Americans readjust to their new normal.

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After 15 months spent masked-up and largely isolated, Americans are finally on the verge of returning to a more normal life. With more than 60% having received at least one vaccination dose, and with the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths steadily dropping, most states have lifted mask, social distance, and capacity restrictions in places of business.

Collective cabin fever, the return of warm weather, and the loosening of restrictions have led some experts to predict a new, 21st century version of the Roaring 20s, with Americans enjoying leisure activities in record numbers: dining out, bar and club-hopping, shopping, watching movies in theaters, returning to ballparks, attending concerts….

With more time out of the house, what will happen to all of the home-based lifestyle habits that helped Americans maintain some sense of sanity since March 2020? Will consumers continue to use streaming TV services at the same levels we’ve seen during the pandemic? Which services will they hold onto, and which will they drop? Will the idea of streaming first-run movies lose its appeal, with restrictions eased at movie theaters? Will Zoom calls with family and friends go by the wayside?

The first three waves of Hub’s Predicting the Pandemic research looked at how consumers’ leisure and entertainment behaviors had changed as a result of COVID-enforced confinement. In Wave 4, we’ll explore how those behaviors are likely to change—or have already changed—as Americans readjust to their new normal.

The study is conducted among 3,000 U.S. consumers age 14-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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July 2021

2021 Monetizing Video

Hub’s annual Monetizing Video study tracks how consumers prefer to pay for video content (if they want to pay at all) and measures their perceived value of different TV providers (both the ones they use, and the ones they don’t).

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Hub’s annual Monetizing Video study tracks how consumers prefer to pay for video content (if they want to pay at all) and measures their perceived value of different TV providers (both the ones they use, and the ones they don’t).

This year’s study takes place at a unique point in TV’s evolution.

  • A full year into the pandemic, consumers are using more TV providers than ever. (In last month’s “Best Bundle” study, viewers reported using an average of almost 6 different sources.)
  • Providers like WarnerMedia and Disney + have upped the ante by committing their best content to their streaming platforms (and attracted more than their share of new subscribers as a result).
  • Smart TVs – now in the majority of US homes – have made it easy for “bread and butter” TV consumers to access and manage streaming TV apps on the screens and in the rooms where they’ve always watched.

In this environment, it’s more important than ever to understand how consumers evaluate their provider choices, and specifically what makes one provider more valuable to them than others.

The study is conducted among 1,607 U.S. broadband consumers age 16-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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July 2021

2021 Evolution of the TV Set

This study covers the current, emerging, and soon-to-come capabilities of TV sets and TV set peripherals, and how they influence viewer behavior.

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With 70 percent of homes now having a smart TV – and over half of TV sets being smart TVs – the evolution of the TV set has reached a new level. The most important screen in the home is less and less dependent on third party devices to connect to the internet in order to stream programs or to join in the smart home revolution. These changes will alter the television ecosystem that has built up over the last decade. How can those “in the business” keep on top of these changes to the TV set and their implications for device ownership and consumer use?

The third year of this report will continue to cover the current, emerging, and soon-to-come capabilities of TV sets and TV set peripherals, and how they influence viewer behavior. With three years of data, we are able to provide long-term trends for many topics. Our report will provide insights to stakeholders in the “TV value chain” (device manufacturers, content producers, and content distributors) which can be used to improve TV-related business outcomes.

The study is conducted among 2,519 U.S. consumers age 16-74

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June 2021

2021 TV Advertising: Facts vs. Fiction

This study evaluates viewers’ perceptions of various ad formats and experiences, and how those perceptions vary by video provider.  

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Is the conventional wisdom that consumers will go to great lengths to avoid advertising actually a driver of video subscriptions and viewing behavior? Is ad avoidance a contributor to the success of paid ad-free SVOD services?

While ad-free services are indeed gaining subscribers, ad-supported FASTs are also seeing increases in usage.  And past research by Hub and others has shown that under the right circumstances, viewers do engage with ads, and often find them of value.

This study evaluates viewers’ perceptions of various ad formats and experiences, and how those perceptions vary by video provider.

Overall, the goal of this study is to determine whether or not viewers are averse to advertising in general, or to specific types of ad formats, or the way they’re served up.  Are there circumstances under which consumers welcome advertising?

The findings will provide a deeper understanding of advertising’s impact on the overall viewer experience, and provide insights on how to optimize the experience on ad-supported platforms to maximize viewer engagement and minimize viewer churn.

The study is conducted among 3,001 U.S. consumers age 14-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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May 2021

2021 Best Bundle

Hub’s “Best Bundle” study tracks how consumers feel about the current TV service status quo, which combinations of services (traditional and streaming) they’re most likely to cobble together, how satisfied they are with the bundles they’ve created, and what considerations drive their bundling decisions.

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Back in 2015, Forbes.com ran a story about the launch of the very first standalone streaming service from a TV network, with the headline: “HBO Now: Opening the Floodgates for Direct-to-Consumer Streaming Services.”

That title has turned out to be prophetic. Since HBO blazed that TV network streaming trail six years ago, the direct-to-consumer floodwaters have barely let up. In just the past year and a half alone, we’ve seen the introduction of services from a wide swath of TV networks, including Disney, NBC Universal, AMC, ViacomCBS, Discovery, and a content-enriched new offering from HBO.

These relatively new services add to an already crowded lineup of TV content options: including major SVODs like Netflix and Hulu, with deep libraries of original and syndicated content; more established direct-to-consumer networks (both linear TV networks like Showtime and Starz, plus niche, streaming-only “channels” from aggregators like Amazon, Roku, and Apple TV); live TV streaming services; and free ad-supported TV services.

The rapid expansion of streaming TV services is undoubtedly a critically important development for the industry. But more fundamentally, these services signal a continuing shift from an aggregated approach to TV content distribution, to a primarily disaggregated approach. Indeed, as fewer and fewer consumers opt to allow traditional MVPDs decide what bundle of TV networks will best meet their needs, consumers themselves are now the ones making most of those decisions for themselves.

Hub’s “Best Bundle” study tracks how consumers feel about the current TV service status quo, which combinations of services (traditional and streaming) they’re most likely to cobble together, how satisfied they are with the bundles they’ve created, and what considerations drive their bundling decisions.

The study is conducted among 1,600 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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April 2021

2021 Connected Home

2021 marks the third year of Hub’s Media+Entertainment tracking study. As in previous years, the Connected Home report will provide a broad look at entertainment technology in the home, as well as intentions to purchase new media tech and how people approach those purchases.

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The past year was like no other experienced in recent decades. While the pandemic constrained many businesses, much of the media business saw increases as people were forced to forgo outside activities and remain home. Consumers invested in not only content services but in new media technology to serve the new reality – smart TVs and streaming media players for household viewing, and computers, monitors, and smartphones for working at home.

This behavior almost certainly accelerated technology investments that would have happened eventually; but which technologies were the winners and which got left behind?

2021 marks the third year of Hub’s Media+Entertainment tracking study. As in previous years, the Connected Home report will provide a broad look at entertainment technology in the home, as well as intentions to purchase new media tech and how people approach those purchases. Tracked against 2019 and 2020 data, our data will reveal what devices are trending hot and cold in the pandemic-impacted media technology market.

This study will continue to provide content producers and distributors with insights that will help them better understand the marketplace and better inform strategy and investment decisions.

The study is conducted among 5,000 U.S. consumers age 16-74.

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March 2021

2021 Predicting the Pandemic

Our 2021 waves of pandemic research will track how consumers have modified their behaviors in the face of these shifts in entertainment delivery and will explore what the “new normal” will look like once the public health crisis has eased.

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The first weeks of 2021 have seen an abundance of new COVID-related developments. New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have continued their post-Thanksgiving surge at the beginning of the year, new, more contagious strains of the virus have begun making inroads in the US, and the new presidential administration has promised significant changes to the way the country manages the crisis. And while recently introduced vaccines have raised hopes that we’ll finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, many have criticized what they consider to be a slow rollout of vaccinations to date.

As the public health situation continues to evolve, so does the TV and entertainment landscape. HBO Max and Disney have shifted their movie distribution strategy toward streaming, releasing first-run, blockbuster films on their online platforms at the same time as (or instead of) in theaters. Netflix has also announced that it will be releasing a brand-new movie every week in 2021. Other streaming platforms have ramped up their original content offerings, AVODs continue to be a popular source of free, nostalgia viewing, and live TV services continue to look for ways to adapt their live sports, competition, and talk show formats.

As was the case in 2020, our 2021 waves of pandemic research will track how consumers have modified their behaviors in the face of these shifts in entertainment delivery and will explore what the “new normal” will look like once the public health crisis has eased.

The study is conducted among 3,008 U.S. consumers age 14-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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February 2021

2021 Evolution of Video Branding

Hub’s Evolution of Video Branding study tracks awareness, understanding, and perceptions of the full range of top players across the TV ecosystem—including both TV distribution platforms and TV networks. The study also examines the impact of these brand perceptions on consumers’ service use and show viewing decisions.

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First launched in 2016, Hub’s Evolution of Video Branding study tracks awareness, understanding, and perceptions of the full range of top players across the TV ecosystem—including both TV distribution platforms and TV networks. The study also examines the impact of these brand perceptions on consumers’ service use and show viewing decisions.

It’s safe to say that the TV brand landscape looks radically different today from how it looked only six years ago, when HBO became the first TV network to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service. That service helped accelerate an important shift that had already begun with the introduction of Netflix, Amazon, and Netflix: the shift from a single platform for accessing one’s favorite TV shows, to the availability of multiple platforms, each with its own exclusive rights to content.

Although the sudden availability of disaggregated content was seen as a boon by many TV consumers (who relished the idea of paying for only the networks they want), the rapid growth of SVODs and direct-to-consumer platforms made it that much more difficult for viewers to locate one’s favorite shows or to discover new ones (where do I go to find show X again?). And those tasks are not likely to get much easier, as viewers must now begin to learn which individual networks and which individual shows are associated with new streaming services offered by media conglomerates (e.g., Peacock, Discovery+, Paramount+).

The 2021 wave of Hub’s Evolution of Video Branding study will examine the impact of these brand developments on consumers’ platform and viewing decisions—and explore how that impact has changed over time.

The study is conducted among 1,606 U.S. consumers age 16-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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January 2021

2020 5G

This new report will explore how much consumers know about 5G at this early stage, consumers’ interest in 5G’s possible applications and use cases, and how 5G might impact legacy providers of broadband or bundled telecom services.

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5G: in the near term, is it high-speed or hype? A broad marketing push for 5G originally planned by several brands for early 2020 was delayed by the pandemic. Now, with the new, just-announced 5G-capable iPhone 12 rolling out in October and November, we know “5G” will come to forefront. But how much do consumers really know about 5G?

5G wireless includes not only phones but home broadband nodes. 5G holds the potential of further transforming our connected world by being the ultimate cord-cutting technology—a further threat to cable broadband service. No wires for TV or home broadband are needed at all, with lightning fast speeds whether the user is stationary at home or mobile in a car. 5G is also a critical component in the evolution of the smart home and smart devices like self-driving cars.

This new report will explore how much consumers know about 5G at this early stage, consumers’ interest in 5G’s possible applications and use cases, and how 5G might impact legacy providers of broadband or bundled telecom services.

The study is conducted among 2,502 U.S. consumers age 16-74.

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January 2021

2020 Video Redefined

“Video Redefined” is our annual deep-dive into how consumers are using these non-TV forms of video content, the appeal of new entrants into the market, and importantly, the impact of time spent with these new content sources on traditional TV viewing. The study will also look at trends in new video consumption and attitudes since our our 2019 wave of “Video Redefined” research.

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From the time the COVID pandemic first forced Americans to spend more time at home, Hub has been carefully tracking not just the impact on TV viewing behaviors, but on entertainment and leisure habits generally.

It’s no secret that COVID has disrupted virtually every aspect of people’s normal leisure existence. It’s resulted not just in people spending more time at home, but also in changes to how some of the most popular TV content is presented (think sports and talk shows), new models for how movies are distributed, delays in TV premieres, live events cancelled or moved online, and of course limited opportunities for spending quality, face-to-face time with friends and extended family.

As consumers continue to look for ways to stay sane during this stressful time, we’ve been tracking a number of fundamental shifts in how they’re consuming entertainment, including more reliance on streaming TV platforms (SVODs and AVODs), a greater likelihood to choose nostalgic comfort viewing, and an increased willingness to pay for first-run movies to watch from the comfort of one’s home.

But without some of the TV options they’re accustomed to, many consumers are venturing out beyond the traditional TV horizon and relying more and more on other forms of content, from YouTube influencer and TikTok videos, to professionally produced short form series to livestreamed performances, to podcasts and eSports, and to live “story” videos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

“Video Redefined” is our annual deep-dive into how consumers are using these non-TV forms of video content, the appeal of new entrants into the market, and importantly, the impact of time spent with these new content sources on traditional TV viewing. The study will also look at trends in new video consumption and attitudes since our our 2019 wave of “Video Redefined” research.

The study is conducted among 1,907 U.S. consumers age 13-74 who watch a minimum of 1 hour of TV per week.

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