New Hub Research Findings: Old Shows Are New Again as Consumers Navigate Streamers and Strikes

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This year’s edition of Hub Research’s annual “Conquering Content” report confirms that audiences remain happy with their wealth of viewing choices, despite the delays in new production due to the recent major Hollywood strikes. Almost two-thirds of viewers say their current favorite show is older and has existed for several seasons, a finding that is up from 54% in 2021.

Even with the era of “Peak TV” on the wane, the sheer volume of content has made it easy for users to find something to watch. “While the pipeline for new shows has slowed due to this year’s historic Hollywood strikes, consumers' loyalties to streaming services can remain stable, provided those services match them with the right content,” says Jason Platt Zolov, one of the report’s authors. “As studios return to licensing quality shows outside of their owned services, consumers are responding positively to the abundance of things to watch, whether ‘new’ or just ‘new to them.’”

New versus older shows

However, a significant factor in audience satisfaction is the ease of discoverability. Over 60% of consumers say “they’re more likely to choose platforms with better search, discovery, and recommendation tools,” up from 56% last year. 

Ease of discoverability

Jon Giegengack, Principal, Hub Entertainment Research, says, “Platforms with smaller libraries will feel the effects more. Apple may be an exception: they’ve positioned themselves around quality of shows over quantity, so people were not necessarily signing up on the promise of a big library anyway. In fact, Apple TV+ content is so “buzzy” that even though the library is relatively small, viewers in our survey perceived them as having more original content than many others. Looking forward, they’re making moves (e.g., investment in MLS and Lionel Messi, rumored bid for F1 rights) that will make them a destination regardless of how many shows are in their library.”

Perceived numbers of originals

But even with the slowdown of new production, some new programming will still be available on a small scale. Giegengack says, “From what I’ve heard, broadcast shows will be able to release mini-seasons of returning shows early next year (some premieres have already been announced). Cable shows will take longer. But even when the strike delays are over, production will remain light because of cost-cutting across the industry.”

New strategies, such as moving back toward longer "seasons" of 15-20 episodes and focusing on syndication, may also appear as content producers and providers adjust to the new streaming landscape.

“We are going to see more licensing and syndication,” Giegengack says. “The past several years of peak TV produced more shows than any normal human could watch. At the same time, a greater proportion of them were exclusive to one platform. So we’ve got:

  • A deep reservoir of great shows
  • Huge numbers of viewers who haven’t seen them yet
  • A viewing public that is just as happy to watch older shows as new releases
  • Platforms that need content their subscribers haven’t seen before (and fewer resources to produce it themselves)

That’s a perfect storm of factors in support of more licensing. It’s no surprise that companies like WBD and Disney have warmed to the idea, and I expect more companies to follow.”

The “Conquering Content” findings explored how consumers discover new shows across different platforms and providers. The data came from interviews conducted in October 2023 among 1,600 US consumers aged 16 – 74 with broadband who watch at least one hour of TV weekly. A free excerpt is available as part of the “Hub Reports” syndicated report series.

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