Subscription video users prefer TV shows over movies


iPadSubscribers to major subscription video services watch four times as many TV shows as movies – and they are just as likely to gravitate to old “Star Trek” episodes as something from the past year.

These findings from a new GfK report that defines the actual viewing habits and preferences of subscribers to Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Hulu Plus. Over 500 subscribers to one or more of these services agreed to recount their use of streaming video once a day for seven days.

About 81% of some 2,300 viewing segments mentioned were for TV shows, compared to 19% for movies. While Hulu Plus viewers watched TV shows almost exclusively (96% of their segments), Netflix users preferred TV shows by a three-to-one margin (77% versus 23%), and Amazon Prime by about four to one (79% vs. 21%).

In terms of total viewing time, TV dominated movies by a factor of two to one. Even though the average time for each movie was much greater, this was more than offset by the much higher number of programs viewed.

Among the specific TV shows cited as having been watched, there was very little overlap; only a few received more than a handful of mentions, and four of the top seven programs have been cancelled for at least three years. The combined “Star Trek” TV series catalog got the most mentions, at 4% of all segments; after that, only “Breaking Bad” and “”Mad Men” rose to the 3% level – with all other programs at 2% or below.

The 10 most-watched movies were mainly drawn from the past one to two years, but featured a quirky array of titles – from “Mission: Impossible” movies to “A Dark Truth” to “Thor.” Of the top 10, only “The Hunger Games” (at 7%) broke the 2% level.

About half of the streaming segments were watched on a TV set connected to the Internet – through a game console, Blu-ray player, streaming box, or a built-in connection.

Streaming services do not seem to be eroding cable or satellite TV subscriptions–but they may be eating into viewing time and thus ad exposure. And lastly, almost three quarters of streaming viewing segments are accompanied by some other activity – eating, talking, or using another digital device.