On demand TV used as a tool to catch up with linear TV

MUMBAI: The main reason people in the UK watch on-demand TV services is to avoid falling behind with the linear TV schedules, according to new research published by Thinkbox and Decipher.

The ‘Tellyport’ research questioned a sample of 3,000 people in the UK and employed a mixture of quantitative and qualitative techniques. It tracked claimed viewing behaviour over the last two years as on-demand TV has become more established, and also ‘tellyported’ six families into the future of TV by equipping them with the latest TV technologies, including Internet-connected TV sets and smartphones, and examining how their viewing behaviour was affected.

It found that catching up with live TV is the main reason for the vast majority (89 per cent) of on-demand TV viewing, and that the desire to use on-demand services to catch up has actually increased in recent years, up from 78 per cent in 2008.
On-demand viewing is seen as ‘back-up’ viewing and the amount of on-demand TV watched to discover new TV shows has halved since 2008, shrinking from 22 per cent to 11 per cent. The shift has happened as watching TV on demand has become more established; there has been a 25 per cent jump in the number of people claiming to watch TV on demand, up from 64 per cent in 2008 to 80 per cent today, within the sample, which represented the most digitally enabled households.

The research also showed that broadcaster-owned on-demand services are the most popular destinations for viewers. 71 per cent claim to watch BBC iPlayer (up 15 per cent since 2008), 39 per cent watch ITV Player (up 15 per cent), 36 per cent watch 4oD (up 36 per cent), and 12 per cent watch Sky Player (up six per cent). 33 per cent claim to watch TV shows on YouTube, which was not a destination for professional TV content in 2008 but which has recently struck deals to show content from professional broadcasters including Channel 4.

The growth in catch-up TV also means that people are becoming more selective about what they watch, with 59 per cent of those questioned claiming they are now more selective about their viewing compared to 30 per cent in 2008. This underlines how people are taking more control over what TV they choose to watch.

Two-screen viewing and social networking : The Thinkbox/Decipher research has also revealed the extent to which two-screen viewing (watching TV while also using companion internet-enabled device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone) is developing.

60 per cent of people claim to concurrently watch TV and go online at least 2-3 times a week, with one in three people (37 per cent) claiming to do so every day. 52 per cent claim to have shopped online while watching live TV, and 44 per cent claimed to have used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter while watching TV.

The qualitative research found that Facebook was deemed unsuitable for a shared TV screen due to its personal nature with viewers preferring to use it on a laptop or mobile. Likewise, online ‘chat’ via an internet connected TV set was not desired by the sample. However, viewers were keen to social network, chat and research around TV content using a companion screen, such as a laptop or mobile. 
The research also underlines the importance of sharing TV with other people and how the Internet and the rise of two-screen viewing has created a ‘virtual sofa’ that enhances viewers’ enjoyment of TV. 37 per cent claimed to have chatted online about TV content – programmes or advertising – with one in five (19 per cent) claiming to have shared TV content on a social network.

Also, nine per cent claimed to have joined a TV-related Facebook group and the qualitative research found that Facebook motivates viewers to watch live TV programming in case their friends tell them what has happened and spoil the experience.

Thinkbox research and strategy director David Brennan said, “Live, linear TV is benefitting from on-demand TV services and social media. The expanding TV world is actually consolidating viewing around the linear schedules people have always had. The internet has given viewers the ability to catch up with missed shows, to interact in real time via social media, and to even transact while watching. These things have combined to make live TV viewing essential. There is now no reason to miss enjoying the shared experience of TV and this benefits viewers and advertisers.”

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