Most major media companies have launched their own free or subscription online video service and have been promoting them heavily. The main goal of media providers is no longer to drive awareness but to differentiate their service among rival offerings. Beyond the top tier of services, users may struggle to distinguish between them.

The latest research report from Hub Entertainment Research suggests that viewers in America are nearly all aware of the big five online video services: Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Hulu, and HBOMax, with awareness at 96-98%.

However, while 80% felt confident that they could explain the Netflix proposition to someone else, the percentage was lower for the other services. The proportion that could explain Amazon Prime Video was 69%, while that for HBOMax was 58%.

Brand awareness of online video services in the United States in 2023. Source: Hub Research.

Name recognition is also high for newer services, like Peacock, Paramount+, Discovery+, Apple TV+, ESPN+, and AMC+, at 85-91%, but only 34-51% could explain what they offered. This also reflects their lower market penetration.

The proportion was even lower for free online video services with advertising. Apparently, 90% of people were aware of the Roku channel but only 45% could explain what it was. Only 31% could explain what Pluto TV was.

Among younger users, aged 16-34, the five most popular online services were seen as must-have sources. For those aged over 35, the traditional networks CBS, ABC and NBC were more likely to be seen as essential.

“Viewers have not lacked in choice of services and content over the past few years, but this can be a two-edged sword for content providers, as the immense volume just makes it hard for viewers to remember what is different about each service,” said David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study. “But at the end of the day, content is king, and unique content will drive viewers even if the service itself isn’t unique to consumers.”

The annual Evolution of Video Branding study has tracked awareness and perception of brands across the television ecosystem since 2019. The latest research was based on a survey conducted in February 2023 among 2,400 consumers in the United States with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least 1 hour of TV per week.