Americans’ love affair with TV & net flourishes

MUMBAI: Americans’ love affair with the television continues. Almost 60 per cent have three or more TVs in their homes and a flat screen TV is first on consumers’ wish list, according to a survey of 1,000 US consumers released by RBC Capital Markets.

Just over half of Americans are watching the same amount of television as ever (53 per cent), plus they’re increasing their time spent on the internet (42 per cent).

RBC Capital Markets director of US Equity Research Marc Harris says, "We are spending more time at work on a computer, then going home to our TVs and home computers at night.

"Technology is dramatically changing the way we work, our choices during personal time, and the way we communicate with others." For example, Americans are communicating more via e-mail (versus the phone) than they did a year ago (six out of ten) and they e-mail and instant-message friends and family more now than a year ago (56 per cent).

The survey also found that three in five US consumers are interested in Internet Protocol Television Service (IPTV), with price and choice about what and when to watch being the top two drivers in consumer buying decisions.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue says, "Technology and broadband innovations will dramatically change the TV viewing experience over the next several years. Not only will consumers be able to view content when and where they want, they will be able to enjoy customized programs which feature high levels of interactivity."

Thus far, the traditional TV screen remains a powerful lure, as compared to the much-hyped alternative of watching TV programs on computer monitors. Fifty per cent of respondents said they don’t have a flat screen TV, but want one. Nine out of ten respondents said they still do not watch television programs on their personal computer or laptop, and more than three-quarters said they did not anticipate doing so. Asked if they watched movies on their personal computer more than they did last year, 83 per cent said no.

45 per cent of Americans are now using time that was spent watching TV with time on the internet. Interestingly, these consumers are well represented across all age groups, indicating that internet usage is increasingly mainstream. More than half (54 per cent) of all respondents said they were spending more time on the Internet for personal entertainment and much more time than they were a year ago (58 per cent), including 86 per cent of respondents between the ages of 18 to 24.

The Potential of IPTV: Respondents were told that IPTV allowed them to get television, video on demand and broadband access, all through one telecom service provider. Asked what would cause them to cancel their cable or satellite subscription service and switch to IPTV, the top three reasons were: cheaper price than existing provider; the ability to watch what they wanted when they wanted; and the ability to watch more content of specific interest.

Television from Telecom Providers: Four out of ten respondents said they would be interested in buying cable TV services from their telecom company, indicating the potential for continued convergence of communications technology. As consumers move up the comfort curve with new technologies, this interest increases: for the 73 per cent who said they owned or wanted to own a flat-screen television, almost half (48 per cent) said they would buy cable TV services from their telecom company; and for respondents who said they had TiVo or wanted it, 52 per cent said they would be interested in buying cable TV services from their telecom company.

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