Time Shifting Has Become The Default

According to the recent The Hub Entertainment Research survey, conducted among 1,210 TV viewers aged 16-74 who watch at least 5 hours of TV per week and who have broadband access at home, ad avoidance is a factor in time-shifting, but not the main one. 60% of respondents cited the convenience of watching on their own time as the primary benefit, vs. only 37% saying skipping ads was favored.

Untethering TV from a linear schedule has both invigorated and disrupted the TV industry. Watching on your own schedule has made TV a more compelling entertainment option for consumers. It’s also made back catalogs more accessible, and thus more valuable. But they’ve also put tremendous pressure on how the TV business has traditionally made money: TV shows watched live, with ads.

When it comes to TV viewing, says the report, consumers are increasingly living in the past. 53% of all viewing among consumers16-74 is time shifted, vs. 47% live. 42% prefer watching episodes of a current season via time-shifting, vs. 28% prefer watching live. Among millennials, 61% of viewing is time-shifted

Percentage Of Shows Viewed Per Source

Show Source

% of Viewers

Shows you record on a DVR or TiVO


On-Demand service


Shows you stream from Netflix


Sites or apps from TV networks


Shows on Hulu or Hulu Plus


Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant


The site or app from [PROVIDER]


Any other online source


Source: Hub Entertainment Research, February 2015

56% of users skip every commercial when viewing from a DVR. And, 49% of VOD viewers fast-forward through every commercial. In aggregate, DVRs and VOD service account for more than half of time shifted viewing.

Top Reasons For Watching Shows Later

  • 60% Watch when convenient
  • 37% See missed episodes
  • 37% Skip ads
  • 34% Can pause or rewind
  • 33% Takes less time to watch
  • 29% Not available during live airing
  • 19% Can watch back-to-back

The report concludes by noting that, with the exception of sports and some reality genres, most TV shows today are watched sometime after they air. All of which makes the question of how to track viewership and monetize programming more challenging, and more urgent, than ever. If anything, time-shifting is only going to increase

Start with the DVR, add VOD, and OTT services, and suddenly the ability to watch TV on your own schedule has shifted from a benefit to an expectation, says the report. In fact, it has become the default. It's all part and parcel of the new mindset that the Internet has wrought. Providers of any service must deliver in a way that meets the consumers' needs, rather than the other way around, concludes the report.

Please visit here to access the complete Hub Time Shifting report in PDF format.


2 comments about "Time Shifting Has Become The Default".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 19, 2015 at 7:08 a.m.

    It's too bad the survey used a very crude check-all-that-apply measure for motivation, rather than measuring each individually. We lost an opportunity for precision. Checkboxes are bad because no one knows how strongly they wanted to check that particular box and the individual intensify is lost in the aggregate. Likert scales in a matrix are much better.

  2. Jon Giegengack from Hub Entertainment Research, March 19, 2015 at 12:53 p.m.

    Hey Doug,

    I'm one of the authors of this study. Thank you for your comment. Here's the reason we asked it that way:

    Our next study (out in mid-April) includes a tradeoff exercise that will measure the relative importance of individual reasons for choosing one platform over another very precisely (by forcing respondents to choose one over another.)

    Knowing that, we used a simpler question here that would get a valuable read on the most common reasons. But wouldn't make the survey much longer for respondents (it's a big one that covers many other topics in addition to this one.)

    In our experience, you're correct that it's important to know both the reasons people choose one platform over another; and the relative importance of those reasons; to predict which platforms will draw the biggest audiences. We'll have a lot on this in our next report.

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