Deloitte: Accessibility drives US content demand and consumption

The proliferation of devices is increasing access to content, which recent data suggest is driving more consumption, according to consultancy firm Deloitte’s sixth edition State of the Media Democracy survey, which reveals that the introduction of new platforms has led to increases in the consumption of movies and books.

The survey assesses media consumption preferences of nearly 2,000 consumers, ages 14 to 75 years old in the United States, revealing significant trends including increased access to content driving consumption, smartphones continuing to challenge other devices and the role of DVRs in preserving consumers’ cable and satellite television subscriptions.

Deloitte finds that access to content is increasing American media consumption. Movies are available on a wider array of platforms – home TV via cable, satellite, DVD, pay-per-view, Internet and online via streaming/downloading to a personal computer, gaming console, smartphone or tablet. As recently as 2009, only 28 per cent of Americans reported streaming a movie; today, 42 per cent report streaming.

Moreover, says Deloitte, the number of people citing streaming delivery of a movie to their computer or television as their favourite way of watching a movie rose to 14 per cent from 4 per cent in 2009. Most tellingly, in 2007, 37 per cent of people said that they had not viewed a movie, available for purchase or rental, during the past six months. In 2011, that per centage of non-consumers dropped to only 19 per cent.

The phenomenon of eBook readers increasing consumer purchases of books is another encouraging sign that digital content married with new devices can increase consumption. While only 23 per cent of respondents preferred to be able to download their books, magazines and newspapers to a digital device in 2007, more than one-third of respondents (36 per cent) now express interest in this option.

Newspapers have also benefited from increased accessibility via smartphones. This year’s survey found that 20 per cent of leading millennials (respondents between the ages of 23 and 28) have read their favourite newspaper in the last six months on a smartphone – up from 9 per cent last year. Eleven per cent of leading millennials have also stated that this is their favourite method for reading the newspaper – up from 3 per cent last year.

“Our data shows that while Americans may be less interested in physical content, their appetite for digital content continues to grow. That appetite, coupled with the introduction of new technologies, is leading consumers to access the content they want on a number of different devices,” said Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and US media and telecommunications sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Consumers may be watching fewer television shows and movies on TV, or reading fewer physical copies of books and newspapers, but they have not stopped consuming the content. They are simply watching or reading on different media or platforms.”

Americans’ love of smartphones continues to grow, suggests Deloitte. The number of households owning smartphones jumped to 42 per cent in 2011 from 25 per cent in 2009. Furthermore, the number of consumers interested in purchasing a smartphone in the near future increased to 52 per cent in 2011 from 40 per cent in 2010.

As adoption of smartphones grows, Americans are beginning to use them as ‘all in one’ devices for a number of different tasks. In 2011 the survey found increases in Americans using: text messaging (up to 78 per cent in 2011 from 71 per cent in 2009), mobile online search (46 per cent in 2011 compared to 30 per cent in 2009, GPS for directions (37 per cent in 2011 versus 22 per cent in 2009) and even online banking, which was tracked for the first time in 2011 (19 per cent).

“Smartphones allow consumers to greatly expand a phone’s functionality by downloading different applications. As the costs for these types of devices, apps and the wireless services that come with them continue to fall, consumers are starting to shift their behaviour, taking advantage of connectivity, performance, and portability that rivals and often beats that of a laptop,” said Asmundson. “As 4G rollouts continue and new smartphone technology is introduced, makers of single purpose devices may need to adopt similar business models if they want to remain competitive.”

The survey also shows Americans value cable TV and satellite TV above most other services, and using a DVR is the second-most preferred means of watching one’s favourite TV show. Yet, only 44 per cent of those surveyed have DVR functionality. This represents an opportunity for cable and satellite TV companies to provide this highly valued viewing capability to millions of additional Americans.

At the same time, a number of Americans have already cut, or are exploring cutting their pay TV connection entirely. Deloitte’s survey found that 9 per cent of people have already cut the cord and 11 per cent are considering doing so because they can watch almost all of their favourite shows online. An additional 15 per cent of respondents said that they would most likely watch movies, television programmes, and videos from online digital sources (via download or streamed over the Internet) in the near future.

“Consumers have shown that they value DVR functionality, yet the majority of Americans don’t have a DVR in the home. This represents a potential opportunity for cable and satellite TV providers,” said Asmundson. “In a world where consumers have other ways to access content, the DVR may be an underutilised service that could serve as a value-add for new and existing subscribers at minimal cost to cable and satellite TV companies,” he concluded.

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