In a recent study, only 39 percent of television viewers choose live TV as their default option, down from 47 percent last year. Traditional broadcast and cable networks should probably take note that live television seems to become less popular with each passing year.
Live television requires viewers to make time in their schedules to watch their favorite shows. And although some viewers still do that, it seems that they prefer to watch television when and where they want. That explains the rise of on demand television viewing, as well as the rise of streaming subscription services, such as Netflix and Hulu. Younger generations, too, grew up with having access to TV on demand, which means that they're the first to give up the tradition of watching TV shows live.
Deadline reported on a study by Hub with results that broadcast and cable networks should find alarming. Only 39 percent of television viewers surveyed in 2018 now choose live TV when given the option. That number is down 8 percent from 2017, with the likelihood that it will continue to decrease. On-demand services, though, were the choice for 48 percent of respondents. The 18-34 age group, though, showed even more dislike for live television. Only about 26 percent of that group chooses live TV when it is an option. In 2017, that percentage was 35 percent.
Although these numbers seem surprising, they really aren't. Television viewers have more choices than ever on how they watch their television content. In addition to traditional cable and satellite, many are also watching streaming subscription services and 50 percent of the 18-34 group subscribes to at least two of the three biggest services: Hulu, Amazon and Netflix.
Netflix has probably caused the biggest disruption to live TV. A recent survey showed that more TV viewers prefer Netflix over any other method of getting their video content. The survey uncovered that 27 percent of TV viewers prefer Netflix over traditional broadcast and cable networks, as well as other streaming subscription services. The 18-34 group showed a stronger preference for Netflix than their older counterparts: 40 percent in that group preferred Netflix.
So what does this mean for live TV? It certainly seems that a death knell is tolling for live television, but traditional networks seem to still rely on live TV numbers. Live TV numbers still can make or break a show, and many series with dedicated fanbases, such as Timeless, still can't seem to please the networks because of this. When shows like that get canceled, it turns more people away from those networks. Relying on live TV is an outdated method of measuring interest in a show, but traditional TV executives do not seem to understand that.