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TV Viewing Habits in Flux

4 Sep, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

STOCKHOLM – An increased reliance on streaming media for on-demand access is changing the way people define, access and consume TV, says a report from media researcher Ericsson. Folks are starting to watch TV shows across screens and occasions without necessarily sitting through full episodes in one place.  

In its study of more than 15,000 people in 15 countries, Ericsson found 63 percent of viewers said they watch on-demand TV and video at least weekly via broadband streams, up from 61 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, the 47 percent of people who use recorded broadcast TV in 2011 declined to 31 percent this year, just as the 38 percent of people downloading movies and TV shows two years ago plummeted to 29 percent.

One respondent from Sweden made the point: “I don’t always watch content to the end. A film can last days for me.”

As people move away from a single, dominant TV set, they’re also moving from set times and half-hour or hour-long viewing. Likewise, people are choosing video content sources based on circumstance, “for example, watching a Netflix series at lunch, but viewing YouTube while on the bus,” the study says.

While 85 percent of respondents still report watching TV at least once a week at home during prime time, 11 percent say they have watched it during the commute home, and 15 percent at work or school. Devices are also helping to keep TV and video content viewing high during late night and in bed.

Ericsson says multiple TVs in the home are being supplanted with one large TV in a family space, and that multiple video experiences are happening in the same room. Some family members use headphones and view another video while maintaining physical closeness to the family watching a main screen.

The main TV is being reserved for “appointment viewing.” The overall amount of time spent in front of the main TV screen declined slightly between 2012 and 2013 globally. Video viewing time spent on desktop computers also shrank. But the time spent viewing video on smartphones and on tablets, while still a fraction of TV time, was up sharply year-over-year.

The report concludes that it would be a mistake to take this snapshot of shifting TV habits as more than a snapshot. If the study indicates anything, it is that video viewing is in flux. 

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