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TV's popularity in decline as viewers turn to mobile devices

Tuesday, April 14th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The popularity of the traditional television set is taking a hit as an increasing number of consumers opt to watch programmes on mobile devices, according to new research.

Accenture’s Digital Video and the Connected Consumer report looked at the usage of various types of media across 24 countries.

TV was the only product category to see uniform, double-digit usage declines across different types of media worldwide among viewers of nearly all ages.

Consumers are instead turning to tablets, smartphones, laptops and even desktop computers to watch video content.

The report, compiled for communications, media and technology companies, found that video consumption – anytime, anywhere – has become mainstream, accelerating the decline of traditional TV viewing.

Viewership for long form video content, such as movies and television on a TV screen, has declined by 13% globally over the past year. Sports viewership on TV screens declined by 10%.

Nearly all age brackets reported double-digit declines in TV viewing globally, with 14 to 17-year-olds abandoning the TV screen at the rate of 33% for movies and television shows and 26% for sporting events.

This decline continues for 18 to 34-year-olds at 14% for movies and television shows and 12% for sporting events, and for 35 to 54-year-olds, at 11% and 9% respectively.

It does, however, flatten among the 55 and older crowd, at 6% for movies and TV, and 1% for sports.

'Second screen viewing'

”We are seeing a definitive pendulum shift away from traditional TV viewing,” said Gavin Mann, Accenture’s global broadcast industry lead.

“TV shows and movies are now a viewing staple on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, thanks to improved streaming and longer battery life.

“The second screen viewing experience is where the content creators, broadcasters and programmers will succeed or fail.”

To that point, the report found that more than a third (37%) of consumers own a combination of smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

Among those who plan to buy a TV, 61% expect to buy a connected or smart TV, and 25% are planning to buy a 4K TV, an increase of 7% over last year.

As consumers view more content online, the quality of online service is becoming a growing concern.

According to Accenture’s analysis, 89% of consumers watch long form video on connected devices, but many report issues with their viewing experience.

The primary complaint among more than half (51%) of respondents watching online video was poor internet service.

They complained about too much advertising placement (42%); buffering, or the time it takes for video to start playing, (33%); and loss of sound or distortions during play (32%).

Respondents said they would pay for an online video service if it guaranteed greater content variety, less advertising, and better video quality.

'Unique and special'

The research also found, however, that traditional broadcasters have a strong advantage over new market entrants, as respondents showed a preference for the dominant TV, satellite and cable providers versus newer internet providers.

When consumers were asked if pay TV channels or video on demand services from brands like Apple, Netflix and Google were an appealing offer, those options scored significantly lower than traditional broadcasters.

“New entrants, regardless of their brand, will have to prove their service quality to consumers to capture significant market share,” said Mr Mann. “Consumers prefer established brands, and broadcasters need to capitalise on this while the iron is hot by aggressively investing in multi-device platforms and securing partnerships that leverage their footprint into the mobile space.

“A simple repackaging of the same programming available anywhere may not do it. It needs to be unique and special.”

Viewing is happening simultaneously across multiple devices, with 87% of consumers using more than one device at a time.

Globally, the smartphone is the most frequent companion device scoring 57% overall. This trend is particularly strong for millennials, with 74% of 14 to 17-year-olds using a combination of TV/smartphones during viewing.

“Understanding consumers and ensuring decision-making is centred on consumer insights will be increasingly key to success,” said Mr Mann.

“This relentless focus on consumer optimisation will have an impact on all elements of a broadcaster’s business, from content decision-making to implementing converged operating models and exploiting the data advantage.”

Mr Mann added that the future leaders in media and entertainment will be those who listen to the audience and can tailor their content and services to “this new reality”.

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