Majority of U.S. consumers want a single TV app

If Apple releases its own TV streaming service next year, it will certainly be timely. Nearly nine out of 10 U.S. pay TV subscribers (86 percent) want a single app for all of their video watching, according to new data released today from Altman Vilandrie & Company’s sixth annual survey on consumer video habits. Apple’s service might not solve the problem entirely, but it would be a step in the right direction.

The survey also revealed that 70 percent of consumers haven’t downloaded any network or cable channel apps, even as viewers continue to be inundated with more streaming video options.

“Consumers are saying that greater choice does not always lead to a better experience,” says Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Jonathan Hurd. “Managing multiple apps across multiple viewing platforms can be challenging and appears to be limiting the market penetration of nearly all TV apps.”

He noted that this flooded marketplace opens up further opportunities for cable and satellite TV providers to increase the adoption of TV Everywhere, which allows subscribers to access, typically for free, content online through a single app. However, Hurd noted that a lack of consumer awareness has severely limited TV Everywhere’s adoption.

The survey showed that ESPN is by far the most popular network app for downloading, with downloads by 27 percent of those who have downloaded at least one app, or 8% of consumers overall. Next most popular among those who download apps are the four major networks: CBS (18 percent), NBC (18 percent), ABC (16 percent) and Fox (eight percent). 

Despite ESPN’s relative strength in app downloads, live sports continues to be a small focus of what consumers view online. Only 16 percent of active online video users view live sports weekly online, compared with much higher levels for movies (38 percent) and TV shows (51 percent). Twenty-two percent watch news weekly online. Other findings of the survey include:

The percentage of consumers watching TV shows and movies online continues to grow, with 60 percent of those 55 and older now watching weekly, up from 48 percent in 2014. Young millennials (18-24) still outpace other age groups, with 89% now watching TV shows and movies online weekly.

More than half of all adults under age 25 binge watch TV shows on Netflix at least weekly. In general, younger adults are the most likely to binge-watch TV shows, defined as watching three or more episodes in a single sitting, on any service. Only seven percent of those 55 and older binge watch TV shows on Netflix weekly.

While most Netflix users said they used an account owned by them or someone in their household, some sharing of accounts between multiple households exists. Young millennials used the highest percentage (25 percent) of accounts owned by someone outside their household (friend or family), suggesting that many of these young people are accessing their parents’ accounts during college or in early adulthood. The second highest level of account borrowing came from consumers 55 and older, which points to a generational reversal with older parents poaching Netflix services from their adult children.

The survey, conducted by Altman Vilandrie & Company since 2010, also analyzed pay TV subscribership, online video usage, mobile viewing, multitasking and binge-watching. The strategy consulting group fielded the online survey in July among more than 3,400 U.S. consumers.