Majority of American viewers still prefer TV to other mediums: Study

NEW DELHI: Television remains the "key" viewer for video in American homes, but video is increasingly coming from the internet which is taking some toll on traditional distribution.

That is one of the conclusions of a new market research analysis by the Consumer Electronics Association.

According to a report given out by the National Association of Broadcasters in the United States, 45 per cent of TV households reported getting some programming on their TVs via internet (from Netflix or Hulu, for example), up a whopping 17 percentage points from 2013's 28 per cent.

Nearly half of TV households (46 per cent) also watched video on a portable computer (laptop, notebook or netbook), up from 38 per cent in 2013, or on a smartphone (43 per cent, up from 33 per cent in 2013), or on either a tablet (35 per cent, up from 26 per cent in 2013) or a desktop computer (34 per cent, up from 30 per cent in 2013).

Consumers who said they receive internet-based programming are also doing so on other devices, including gaming consoles (50 per cent), Blu-ray players (40 per cent) and services such as Apple TV or Roku (33 per cent).

But internet-only viewers are still a small fraction at 5 per cent, about the same as 2013.

That number could be growing. CEA says that according to figures as of January 2014, 24 per cent of all households had an internet-enabled TV, with 16.1 million app-enabled TVs projected to ship this year.

The vast majority of U.S. households (93 per cent) have used TVs to access video in the past 12 months. Traditional TV programming is primarily accessed through a pay-TV service, with cable claiming half (52 per cent) of that subscriber base with 60 million subs, down from 63 million in 2013.

Satellite services boast 36 million households (31 per cent), up from 35 million in 2013. Fiber to the home video services account for 14 per cent or 16 million subs, up 33 per cent from 12 million in 2013.

17 per cent of TV households receive television programming through an antenna, with only 6 per cent relying exclusively on an antenna for their TV, in line with 2013 findings.

CEA says there has been a seven percentage point decline in the number of homes using traditional pay-TV platforms since 2010, when 88 per cent of households said they subscribed to cable, satellite or fiber to the home. And since 2005, says CEA, cable service subs have declined from 61 per cent to 52 per cent in 2014. Even with the increases over that time for fiber and satellite, total paid subs are still down.

“The decline in traditional pay TV service may be partially attributed to increasingly accessible internet sourced television programming on TVs as well as the adoption and use of alternative video-capable CE devices in homes," said the report. "Inexpensive streaming options, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, are also contributing to the overall decline."

The numbers appear to bear that out. Over the past 12 months, in homes not subscribing to pay TV, "non-subscriber use of notebook, laptop or netbook computers to view video content increased from a quarter (25 per cent) in 2013 to over half (53 per cent) in 2014. Use of smartphones for in-home video consumption increased among non-subscribers from 27 per cent in 2013 to 46 per cent this year, and 27 per cent of non-subscribers now view video content on tablets compared to just 13 per cent in 2013."

The CEA report found that 10 per cent of pay TV households currently subscribing to cable, satellite or fiber video services said they were "likely" to cut that cord in the next 12 months. Of those, 23 per cent said they were going the all-internet route, with 20 per cent saying they would be getting an antenna and 17 per cent said they were swearing off video entirely.

The report is based on findings of a telephone survey of 1,006 adults, 504 men and 502 women 18 and older, living in the continental United States. The survey was conducted between 24 and 27 April, with 606 landline interviews and 400 by cell phone. The margin of error at 95 per cent confidence is +/- 3.1 per cent. 

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