5 Facts That Illustrate the Colossal Changes TV Has Gone Through in Just 5 Years

Less live viewing, more subscription services

How has the TV landscape changed over the past five years? Let us count the ways... Getty Images
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The TV industry has vastly changed in just five years, as highlighted in new data released by Hub Entertainment Research.

In just that short amount of time, streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have given consumers new methods of accessing television and, in the process, rapidly changed their viewing habits. Instead of only being able to watch the shows the network puts on, consumers now are able to dial up the program they want to watch on their own time.

“It introduces competition into an industry that had been tightly controlled and consumed in the same way,” said Jon Giegengack, principal and founder of Hub Entertainment Research.

Here are the most seismic ways that, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s data, the TV industry has changed over the past five years.

1. People are spending less time watching live TV

Consumers’ habits are changing. Five years ago, they used to spend 63 percent of their viewing time watching live TV, but that figure has dropped to 33 percent. Of course, there are some things that consumers still want to watch live, Giegengack said, such as season finales and premieres as well as big sporting events. But overall, consumers are opting for programs on their own schedule instead of choosing whatever appears on live TV.

2. People are watching TV in different ways

In 2016, consumers had an average of 2.6 sources to watch TV on. This year, that number jumped to 4.4 TV sources. “People are creating their own TV bundles. Live TV is still part of the mix, but now it’ll be live TV, plus a DVR plus Netflix plus Hulu plus the TV Everywhere app. And people are gathering those sources together because they offer something compelling,” Giegengack said.

3. The number of pay TV customers with an SVOD subscription has skyrocketed

Five years ago, just 41 percent of pay TV customers also subscribed to an SVOD service like Netflix. This year, that figure is 70 percent. Giegengack said he thinks the industry will see more cable TV providers adding other streaming services, such as Comcast, which has integrated Netflix and YouTube into its video on demand service. “What people need now is not an aggregator of networks, but an aggregator of sources,” Giegengack said.

4. The number of OTT video services in the U.S. has more than doubled

In 2013, there were 86 OTT video services in the United States. Now there are 219. “Netflix got people used to the idea that you can sit down and watch TV, even if you don’t have something specific in mind, you’ll be able to navigate a big catalog of content,” Giegengack said. 

5. More people now subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Five years ago, 43 percent of TV watchers subscribed to one of the “Big Three,” defined by Hub Entertainment Research as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Now, 71 percent subscribe to one. These companies have further developed and kept consumers intrigued by developing original content, Giegengack said. And some of those shows have turned out to be award-winning: Last year, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale became the first series from a streaming service to win an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.