Market Overview

With Paid Online Video Now Reaching 3 of 5 US Consumers, New Altman Vilandrie & Company Survey Reveals Live News and Sports Still Huge Draw for Pay TV Subscribers


BOSTON, Dec. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Even with 3 of every 5 American TV viewers subscribing to an online video service, a new Altman Vilandrie & Company survey shows that live news and sports are the top reasons why consumers subscribe to pay TV. The survey also asked viewers to identify "must have" shows from TV and video services, revealing sharp differences in the volume and content of favorite programming across age demographics, along with a shared love by all ages for Netflix's Stranger Things and CBS's Big Bang Theory.

Altman Vilandrie & Company's annual consumer video survey, conducted for its ninth year, also reveals the most important factor by far for how younger and older viewers make program viewing decisions is "word of mouth," roundly beating out new methods like social media ads.

"Despite the industry upheaval of the past several years, two traditional pillars of television – news and sports – remain the main reasons consumers choose pay TV," said Altman Vilandrie & Company Principal Matt Rivet, who co-directed the survey. "Young viewers – and increasingly older ones – are showing a voracious appetite for TV content, which provides opportunities for both new and traditional providers."

Online video subscribers still strong
The survey reveals the continued growth in popularity of online video services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Overall, 61 percent of consumers subscribe to at least one video service, with middle-aged viewers subscribing at the highest rates: 68 percent of 35-44-year-olds subscribe to at least one video service, and 45 percent to two or more.

However, 52 percent of consumers subscribe to at least one online video service and a pay TV provider, evidence that consumers have ample appetites for multiple sources of content.

Viewers still "must have" live news, sports
Respondents were asked to choose their "must have" programs from a list of 235 popular scripted and unscripted programs from network, cable and streaming services. Across all respondents, five of the top six programs were live news and sports: 1) choice of local news, 2) choice of national news, 3) National Football League, 4) The Big Bang Theory, 5) NCAA Football, 6) Major League Baseball. Sports interest slipped for the youngest viewers (18-24), with live NFL and National Basketball Association programing ranking in the top 20 priority programs.

In addition, the highest percentage of all viewers (63 percent) selected live news as a reason to subscribe to Pat TV. Similarly, 52 percent of all Pay TV customers indicated that live sports was a top reason for subscribing.

"Must-have" choices reveal age preferences, 'Strange' bedfellows
The "must have" programs show clear viewing differences among the various age groups. Younger viewers have many more "must-have" programs than older viewers, which indicates an opportunity for both Pay TV and streaming providers to feed millennials' large appetite for video content. Sixty-nine programs were deemed "must have" by 20 percent or more of 18-24-year-old viewers, compared to 22 programs for 25-34-year-olds and nine for those 55-plus.

In addition to placing a high value on live news and sports, viewers 55 and older gravitate toward programs on network TV, particularly crime and medical dramas. Younger viewers pull their top choices for content from a broader variety of sources and formats, including cartoons, cooking shows, and science fiction/fantasy. There were some areas of overlap, specifically Stranger Things, which is the top "must have" show for viewers under 35 and ranked high for older viewers, and Big Bang Theory, which ranked in top 10 for all age demographics.

"The differences in content preferences across viewer demographic groups makes it hard for video service providers to make one-size-fits-all packages to meet consumers' needs," said Altman Vilandrie & Company Principal Patrick Redmond, who co-directed the survey. "However, even with many consumers now subscribing to both Pay TV and a video streaming service, providers can develop strategies to retain and expand relationships with these double dippers."

Finding modern content, the old-fashioned way
Consumers turn to friends and acquaintances more than any other source when making viewing decisions. Sixty percent of all consumers – including 64 percent of younger viewers (18-34) and 57 percent of 55+ viewers – say that "word of mouth" was their preferred way to choose TV programs. For younger viewers, that result outpaced "video service recommendations" (53%) and "social media ads" (42%).

Another more established advertising method, "on air commercials on the show's network" placed second in the rankings with 54 percent of overall viewers.

Altman Vilandrie & Company fielded the online survey in August 2018 to more than 5,000 respondents provided by Research Now SSI. In 2018, the annual consumer video survey analyzed the impact of collections of specific programs on pay TV adoption and viewing.

Additional portions of the analysis as well as charts to support the findings are available here. For more details on the survey please contact

About Altman Vilandrie & Company
Altman Vilandrie & Company is a strategy consulting group that focuses on the telecom, media, technology and investor sectors. The company's consultants are experienced in strategy, marketing, finance, M&A, technology, regulatory and operations disciplines. Based in Boston, with offices in New York City and San Francisco, Altman Vilandrie & Company enables clients to seize new opportunities, navigate mounting challenges, improve business performance, and increase investor value within complex and converging industries.

Ninety percent of the boutique firm's operator clients are large- to mid-cap companies including service providers, technology and software developers, and media companies. Altman Vilandrie & Company's financial clients include many of the largest and most prominent investors in the telecom, media and technology markets.

About Research Now SSI
Research Now SSI is the world's leading global provider of first-party consumer and professional data based on extensive, proprietary market research panels. Around this core asset of opted-in, managed data, the company has built innovative data services and solutions that bring the voice of the individual to the entire marketing spectrum, from research to marketing to advertising. Research Now SSI serves more than 5,800 market research agencies, media and advertising agencies, consulting and investment firms, and healthcare and corporate customers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. For more information about our range of data-driven offerings, go to and


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