The needle finally moves in changing TV viewership habits.

graphDespite the many changes we’ve seen in the way people can consume media today, one thing that has remained pretty consistent has been the dynamics of TV viewership.

Things have taken so long to evolve, to some observers it’s seemed as if TV was effectively immune to all of the changes happening around it.

But now we’re finally seeing some pretty fundamental shifts happening in the way content on TV sets is consumed.  Two new surveys chart what’s changing.

A recently released report from Accenture, which surveyed nearly 25,000 online consumers during the 4th quarter of 2014, notes that viewership of long-form video content (television and movies on a TV screen) is now in decline across all demographic categories – not merely among younger viewers.

The decline amounts to ~11% over the previous year among American viewers.  It’s even bigger (a ~13% decline) when looking at worldwide figures.

Not surprisingly, the drop is less pronounced among viewers aged 55+ (for them it’s closer to a 5% reduction) than with young viewers age 14-17 (a decline in excess of 30%).  But the fact that declines are now occurring across the board is what’s noteworthy.

At the same time, the Accenture survey found that consumers who watch long-form video on connected devices rather than on TVs aren’t all that enamored with the experience:

  • About half find that watching online video isn’t a great experience because of Internet connectivity issues.
  • Approximately 40% complain of too much advertising. 
  • Around one-third encounter problems with video buffering … and an equal portion report problems with audio distortion or dropouts.

More highlights from the Accenture research are available for download here.

time-shifted TV

Another study – this one from Hub Entertainment Research – has found that viewers who have broadband and watch at least five hours of TV per week are actually watching more time-shifted TV than they are watching live broadcasts.

On average, participants in this study reported that ~47% of the TV shows they watch are live and ~53% are time-shifted.

Among younger viewers (age 16-34), time-shifted viewing is even more prevalent (around 60%).

Most time-shifted viewing is still happening through a set top box:  DVRs (~34%) and video-on-demand from a pay TV provider (~19%).

For consumers, being able to watch TV on their own schedule isn’t just more convenient; it has also made back catalogue material more accessible.

Survey respondents noted the following reasons for watching shows at a different time:

  • Can watch when it’s more convenient to do so: ~60% of respondents
  • Can see missed episodes:  ~37%
  • Can skip ads: ~37%
  • Can pause or rewind the program:  ~34%
  • It takes less time to watch the show: ~33%
  • Not available to watch the show during live airing: ~29%
  • Can watch show episodes back-to-back: ~19%

Notice that ad avoidance isn’t at the top of the list.  Nonetheless, for the industry this is a mixed bag.  Time-shifting has clearly put pressure on the business model and how the TV business traditionally makes money – namely, shows watched live, with ads.

Additional details on the Hub Entertainment Research report can be accessed here.

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