Video services

Consumer Interest in à la Carte Declining – TiVo Study

Most consumers still want to buy video content and programming on an à la carte basis, but that group is shrinking as the market for TV shows and movies becomes increasingly fragmented and "content fatigue" is beginning to set in, TiVo found in its latest "Video Trends Report."

TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s study, based on a Q4 2018 survey of some 4,458 adults in the US and Canada, found that 70.9% of consumers remain interested in the à la carte option. But that's down markedly from 81.3% in the year-ago period.

That decline indicates that there are "signs of content fatigue" as consumers become overwhelmed by the choices they have from traditional pay-TV services as well as a growing multitude of OTT-delivered subscription and free, ad-based choices, TiVo said.

The scenario isn't about to change anytime soon. In fact, the sheer number of choices will only become larger in the months ahead, as Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s WarnerMedia and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal LLC push ahead with plans to launch various direct-to-consumer video products. (See Can NBCU Crack the Economics of OTT?, Disney Dispenses Details About Its New Streaming Service and AT&T CEO: Our SVoD Service Won't Be 'Another Netflix'.)

The number of video content types being tapped by consumers (pay-TV and free and paid OTT) continues to climb. Per the Q4 2018 TiVo study, respondents reported using an average of 2.75 services, up 26% from the 2.18 services they reported using in 2017.

And the types of consumer-generated bundles being assembled is also incrwasingly fragmented, with 10.6% combining pay-TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The next largest self-created video bundle, at 7.5% of consumers, mixed pay-TV with video from YouTube and Facebook.

Consumers also have different thoughts about what video sources are "essential" versus "supplemental." Some 52.7% of those surveyed deemed Netflix to be "essential" while just 39.5% gave that same designation to cable TV.

And OTT has clearly become a video source for the masses, as 69.3% said they used some type of Internet-fed, subscription video offering, according to the survey.

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Although cord-cutting remains a sticky issue for pay-TV providers (18.8% of those surveyed plan to cut the cord in the coming months), live TV is not dead – that category still leads in terms of time spent watching. About 63% said they watch one hour or more of live TV accessed via a channel guide per day, while 52% said they watch one hour or more of video from an OTT/subscription service per day.

However, the traditional set-top box is clearly on the wane as streaming devices gain ground as the primary access point for pay-TV services. About 22% said they access pay-TV with a streaming device, and 26.2% said they have replaced their set-top box altogether with a streaming device. (See Sale of Arris Set-Top Box Biz 'On the Table' for CommScope – Analyst .)

Per the study, smart TVs were the most popular streaming device (27.1%), followed by gaming consoles (19.4%), Roku players (17.7%) Amazon Fire TV (15.7%) and Apple TV boxes (13.3%).

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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