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Too Many Shows? Peak TV Overwhelms Viewers, Survey Finds

With no end in sight to the peak-TV phenomenon as the likes of Netflix and Apple load up on original series, a new survey indicates U.S. viewers may have already had their fill of content.

Asked whether “there are so many TV programs to choose from that it’s hard to know where to start,” nearly half of respondents either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed.

The 49% who signaled there are too many shows is up from 42% who answered the same question in 2014. It’s also far more than the 19% who disagreed that there were too many shows.

Conducted last month by Hub Entertainment Research, the survey gauged sentiment from 2,214 U.S. consumers between the ages of 16-74 who watch at least five hours of TV per week and have broadband connections.

TV Saturation Chart
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hub Entertainment Research

The Hub survey also asked the question a different way, asking respondents to gauge whether there are too many shows to choose from, about the right amount of shows or not enough shows to choose from. While 53% indicated about the right amount of shows, 35% signaled there were too many shows (not enough shows registered 12%).

“Over one-third is a lot of people,” said Hub principal Jon Giegengack. “The SVOD services are investing all this money in original content but at some point the volume of content defeats itself.”

When asked about Netflix alone, even more respondents–39%– said there were too many shows to choose from, versus 50% saying the right amount of shows.

Another troubling indicator was the response to the statement “More of my total TV time is spent watching shows I really like.” While a healthy 73% responded affirmatively, that’s actually down from 81% in 2014.

Respondents also noted that they are getting more picky about which shows they’ll sample. Only 12% said they would give “any new show a try even if it looks only slightly interesting,” compared to 34% who said, “I’ll only try a new show if I’m pretty confident I’m going to like it.”

Furthermore, the survey found that for the first time since Hub began asking these questions since 2013, digital content is overtaking pay TV (including linear, VOD and DVR) as the home of favorite shows. However, a growing number of viewers are discovering content online that leads them back to linear channels for future viewing.

There were 455 scripted TV shows airing in the U.S. in 2016, according to data from FX Networks, up from 389 in 2014.

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