Younger Americans watching streamed TV shows: Harris

MUMBAI: Americans? television viewing options continue to grow. First cable, and then satellite services, expanded the amount and variety of content Americans could expect to find in their living rooms.

More recently, DVRs, cable- or satellite-provided on-demand programming, along with digitally streamed programming, have allowed Americans to watch what they want, when they want, wherever they like and on whichever device they choose. But how are all of these possibilities really affecting Americans? overall TV viewing habits? And how are they likely to change in the near future?

A Harris poll shows that over half of Americans (53%) indicate having watched digitally streamed TV programming on any device, and streaming is well on its way to becoming a dominant means of viewership among 18-35 year olds, nearly tying top-ranked live feed TV (as it airs) as the way or among the ways they most often watch TV programming (44 per cent live feed TV, 41 per cent streaming).

These are some of the results of a poll of 2,343 adults surveyed online from 10 ? 15 October, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Despite US adults - particularly those 35 and under - clearly seeing streaming as a viable viewing option, our TV screens are far from endangered: when asked to select the way or ways in which they most often watch television programs, roughly nine in ten Americans (89 per cent) point to their TV sets, sans streaming.

Though they are watching television programming on a TV screen, whether over the air or through cable or satellite providers, American are far from unanimous on how they do so: while over half (56 per cent) identify a live feed as the way, or one of the ways, they most often watch TV programs, roughly three in ten each specify watching recorded (32 per cent) or cable- or satellite-provided on-demand (29 per cent) programming.

As for streaming, while it may not be overtaking traditional TV viewership methods today, it is by no means an afterthought: a combined three in ten Americans (30 per cent) have the ability to watch streamed programming on their TV sets (19 per cent via set top boxes or game systems, 17 per cent via Internet-compatible TV sets), and two in ten (20 per cent) list streaming - on any device - as among the ways they most often watch TV programs.

Additionally, there is cause to expect growth in the streaming of TV content: two in ten Americans indicate that they are watching more online/streaming TV content now than a year ago (20 per cent) and that that they expect to be watching more a year from now (19 per cent). And among those not watching more when compared to a year ago, roughly six in ten (59%) indicate that there are factors which could encourage them to watch more online/streaming TV programming; top factors include improved free streaming options (31%), access to programming they currently cannot (or don?t think they can) get via streaming (20 per cent), not having to watch on a computer screen (19 per cent), access to a sufficiently fast connection (17 per cent) and ease of access (17 per cent).

Streaming proving a fit for households with children Americans living in households with children appear to be an especially strong market for TV streaming. Those with children in their households are more likely than those without to: own many of the streaming compatible devices asked about: Smartphone (62 per cent among those with children in their households vs. 40% among those without), TV with Internet access (either natively or via a box or game system; 38 per cent with vs. 27 per cent without), Tablet (31 per cent with versus 21 per cent without); have ever watched streamed TV programs (60 per cent with versus 49 per cent without); report watching more (24 per cent with vs. 18 per cent without) or the same amount (44 per cent with versus 36 per cent without) of online or streaming TV content than a year ago; and, anticipate watching more (27 per cent with versus 15 per cent without) online/streaming TV content a year from now.

Vying for attention Regardless of how Americans watch TV programs, few are only watching: roughly eight in ten (81 per cent) report doing other things while watching TV. More specifically, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) engage in online activities; over one-third (37 per cent) read a book, magazine or newspaper, with an additional 11 per cent reading a book on an electronic reading device; roughly one-third (35 per cent) text and one-fourth (25 per cent) do other things.

So What? TV advertising has grown increasingly complex in recent years; gone are the days of simply choosing which programs to support and in which markets. Now advertisers must also consider how viewers will be watching, on what device, and - particularly for time-sensitive advertising - when.

Harris Interactive Media Practice VP Rhona Wulf said, "This adds challenges to digital media planners and agencies needing to capture and engage audiences," explains. With the 35-and-under age group showing particularly strong streaming and multi-screening, along with those in households with children, "those looking to speak to these markets are under particular pressure to establish multi-platform approaches."

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