Motorola: Viewers moving away from scheduled TV content

British viewers are moving from traditional video consumption habits to a more varied video content ‘diet’, according to the UK-market findings from global research conducted by Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Motorola.

Motorola Mobility’s 2010 Media Engagement Barometer shows that while free-to-air services are available to 67 per cent of global viewers, compared to 57 per cent for paid for services, the most preferred TV services are subscription only. In the UK, 70 per cent of viewers have access to free services and 59 per cent have access to paid yet like the global findings, paid for services are the most preferred.

The independent global study of video consumption habits among 7,500 consumers in 13 markets by research agency Vanson Bourne, shows that social media is changing viewing experiences, though the rate of adoption differs across regions. In the United Kingdom for example, 39 per cent of respondents have used email, instant message chat or a social network to engage in a conversation while watching the same TV or video content as friends. This compares to 42 per cent of global respondents who have engaged with TV content in this way. Of the 39 per cent of UK respondents a further 44 per cent said that it is now a regular part of their viewing experience and 32 per cent would be prepared to change provider to one that offered these integrated services.

New viewing technologies are expanding as well: 57 per cent of people in the UK currently own an HD TV and 25 per cent expect to buy one in the next 18 months according to the survey. This compares to two per cent that currently own a 3DTV or the 16 per cent who plan to upgrade to a 3D screen in the next 18 months. Globally, 75 per cent either own or plan to own an HD television in the next 18 months and 25 per cent are expected to upgrade their TVs to include 3D in the same timeframe.

“The research clearly shows a changing television landscape, one where subscription services are becoming mainstream, augmented by social activities revolving around Internet chat and networking channels,” explained Steve McCaffery, vice president and general manager, Home business EMEA, Motorola Mobility. “As we travel further into the Internet era of TV, the ability for service providers to differentiate their offers will become even more crucial as consumers look for extra value from their subscriptions. The good news is that, based on these findings, there’s a willingness to pay for the services providing the value is understood.”

In terms of service preference, only 14 per cent of Britons only watch schedule or live content and a just over a third say that their weekly television and video diet consists of an equal mix of scheduled content and other services (such as video on the Internet, pre-recorded content, like DVDs, and on-demand programming).

Though the TV set is still central in most homes, viewing habits have evolved alongside consumer expectations of where content is consumed. In the UK, 68 per cent said it was quite or very important to be able to access free content on devices other than the main television set in the home and 34 per cent felt like this towards accessing free content outside the home. When looking at paid content, just 39 per cent want access on different devices in the home and 25 per cent feel the same when out and about.

“The findings suggest that the huge increase in the availability of video content is leading to viewers in the UK adopting a tiered approach to their viewing habits, notionally based around payment,” McCaffery said. “They expect to watch free content on laptops and other devices, but they are still staying loyal to the television set for the premium, paid-for content, most likely to have a better viewing experience. This is a powerful message for the service providers. Stickiness does exist providing all parts of the offering are attractive to subscribers.”

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