New MarketCast Study, TV Re-Packaged Finds Consumers Want to Streamline Viewing and Subscription Experience

For Consumers, the Ideal Television Service Must Satisfy A Lengthy List of Important—and Sometimes Conflicting—Desires

LOS ANGELES, CA, October 1, 2013 – MarketCast, a global entertainment research firm, today announced the results of a new study among American TV viewers that provides an in-depth look at what television viewers want from their television service and the role that the “cord” plays (or does not) in how consumers view the future of television.

The new study, entitled “TV Re-Packaged: How Viewers See the Future of the Medium,” was conducted online among 1,200 American TV viewers ages 18-49, and found that TV viewers are looking to maximize control, minimize cost and streamline the TV viewing and subscription experience. Cord-cutting is just one avenue viewers are taking to satisfy a long list of important and sometimes conflicting desires.

“What started out as a study about cord-cutting led us down a journey into evolving consumer preferences and the relationship viewers have with their TV service providers” said MarketCast CEO Henry Shapiro. “All of these dynamics are complicated by the availability of programming choices and consumption mechanisms that didn’t even exist a few years ago. Consumers want to have their cake and eat it too. But they also want that cake to be low cost and to have no calories.”

Among the key findings of the study are:

A La Carte TV Packages are in High Demand — TV Viewers Only Want to Pay for What They Watch…

When thinking about the ideal package of television services, a la carte programming is the most desired feature, second only to low cost. In an ideal world, consumers would have total access to all content, but pick and choose (and pay for) only the programming they want.

…But Consumers Don’t Want to Disaggregate to Get There

Just over half of “Cord-Cutters” – those who don’t subscribe to a traditional, wired TV service (cable, satellite, or fiber optic) – say that the chief reason for ditching is that they no longer wanted to pay for channels they don’t watch; but at the same time, their biggest frustration with Internet-based TV (such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant) is the hassle of maintaining multiple subscriptions. The spectre of disaggregating – and paying multiple bills – is also the number one reason why cord-connected consumers stick with their existing services, despite their being plenty vocal about other problems with their provider. This is the disconnect that is opening the door for disruption.

Live Sports Access Critically Important…But Only to a Minority of TV Viewers

The cost of sports programming is disproportionately shared by all TV viewers. But for 82 percent of TV viewers, live sports does not feature prominently in their ideal TV package. Only 18 percent of TV viewers value live sports access more than they do other features, but for this small group, sports trumps everything else – including the desire to pay a low monthly subscription cost.

TV Anytime is Nearly Twice as Important as TV Anywhere

TV viewers overwhelmingly prefer the freedom to choose when they consume their favorite programs to being able to choose where they consume, such as on multiple devices or outside their home. As a specific selling point, the idea of making TV more mobile is likely to be a more attractive proposition when positioned as time shifting rather than as place shifting.

The Cord Cutting Debate Focuses Too Much on “If, When and How Many” and Too Little on the Value Proposition…

Cord cutting is not about cutting the cord per se, but rather it is about how consumers are migrating toward an experience that better satisfies their core content consumption needs. How programming is delivered – Wired or wireless? Cable/satellite or Internet? – ranks at the bottom of the hierarchy in terms of package composition.

…But Nearly All TV Viewers Envision a Sea Change on the Horizon

While only 25 percent of consumers think that traditional TV service subscribers are in the minority today, 53 percent think that those who subscribe to this model will be in the minority in 5 years.

“There is an air of inevitability about cord cutting among TV viewers,” said MarketCast Senior Director and study author Chris Rethore. “Even among Cord Keepers – those most dedicated to the television status quo – there is a clear expectation that in just a few years, those who subscribe to traditional television service as we know it today will be in the minority.”

Consumers Considering Cutting the Cord Struggle to Follow Through

Around four in ten of those who currently subscribe to a traditional service say that they are “extremely” or “very likely” to cancel in the future. However, the near-term threat to traditional providers is much less severe. Seven in ten of these “Cord Considerers” admit that their bundled package (for example, with Internet or telephone service) remains a major tether to their existing provider. Additionally, concerns about a lack of programming variety from online services coupled with a reluctance to manage multiple subscriptions continue to play a large role. Most interesting though, 60 percent of Cord Considerers admit that they simply lack the conviction to follow through – while they may talk a big game, they never get around to actually cancelling (but may be one house- or apartment-move, or one unsatisfactory customer service experience away from doing so).

Standalone Premium Channel Service May Help Some Connected Viewers Cut the Cord…

For some traditional TV service subscribers, premium channel content from networks like HBO and Showtime is a strong cord tether. The prospect of a standalone HBO or Showtime subscription that is offered independently has merit – 27 percent of premium TV service subscribers who are considering cutting the cord say that they would “definitely” do so and just subscribe to a standalone premium service if they could. 

…But Standalone Premium Channel Service Unlikely to Attract TV Viewers Who Already Cut the Cord

Only 12 percent of disconnected TV viewers say that they would “definitely” subscribe to a new standalone service that allows them to access premium channel content through a service like HBO GO or Showtime Anytime.

Cord Cutters are Not the Destitute Cave Dwellers Popular Media has Made Them Out to Be, Particularly When It Comes to TV Programming

While cost factors into the decision for why they stopped subscribing to traditional TV services, Cord Cutters are not low value consumers when it comes to paid media. Compared to other groups, Cord Cutters demonstrate the highest average annual consumption for paid media. Their advantage over other TV viewer subgroups is most pronounced in television consumption, where they are spending more on episodes and entire seasons via purchases and rentals of DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and digital downloads.

For more information about this study or a presentation of key findings, please contact Chris Rethore.

About MarketCast LLC

Based in Los Angeles, with a presence in New York, Boston, and London, MarketCast (www.mcast.com) is a leading provider of marketing research services for the global entertainment industry. Through a variety of research services backed by rigorously scientific quantitative and qualitative methods, MarketCast works in collaboration with marketers and researchers across the spectrum of entertainment companies in the development and execution of their marketing strategies, from early concept exploration through ancillary distribution windows. Products and services are available throughout the major release territories in the Americas, Europe and Asia, as well as emerging markets, and include materials testing (trailers, TV spots, print ads, etc.), concept and positioning studies, exit polls, recruited audience screenings, tracking studies, and focus groups, as well as a host of ad-hoc, custom offerings including brand/franchise studies, title tests, post-release studies, and attitudes and usage studies. In June 2012, MarketCast was acquired by Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III, a private equity fund focused exclusively on media, entertainment and communication investments and managed by Shamrock Capital Advisors.