Accenture: Traditional broadcasters battle online newcomers

A growing appetite for video content over the Internet has attracted a host of new digital services, devices and brands to the market, according to a new study by Accenture.

The multi-nation study, Accenture’s Video-Over-Internet Consumer Survey 2012, found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of those surveyed use international online providers (such as Netflix or YouTube) for viewing video content over the Internet on their televisions, PCs, smartphones and other mobile devices. However, a healthy percentage (36 per cent) of respondents indicated they continue to use traditional local broadcasters and video website providers.

While younger viewers are turning to new provider brands in greater numbers, a significant number of consumers continue to trust traditional brands. Asked to name their preferred provider of video over the Internet services, respondents ranked telecommunications and broadband providers first at 43 per cent. Traditional TV broadcasters ranked second (33 per cent), with TV and gaming console manufacturers and new Internet companies tied for third at 12 per cent apiece. Not too surprisingly, gaming console manufacturers received the highest ranking from the younger (18 – 24 year-olds) demographic.

“The survey results suggest that, given their control of networks and access gateways, telcos and cable providers today have the edge in terms of acting as a trusted provider for consumer Internet video services,” said Francesco Venturini, Accenture’s global broadcast lead. “However, established broadcasters are fighting back to earn consumer trust in the online world.

“They are investing heavily in this space to provide new services across multiple devices, showing that they are not prepared to relinquish their control of the content value chain. And with the arrival of new players such as device manufacturers and Internet businesses, the competition for digital consumers’ hearts and minds has truly started.”

In terms of willingness to pay, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of those surveyed said they are prepared to pay a subscription fee to watch video content over the Internet, with 43 per cent already paying for some of the content they access. About half (49 per cent) indicated they would pay $5 – $10 per month, and one in ten (10 per cent) would pay a monthly fee of more than $10. The remaining respondents (41 per cent) indicated they might be willing to pay a fee of less than $5. The caveats are that the content must be of high quality and commercial advertising must be minimal.

The frustration with advertising was especially prominent among the youngest demographic (those between 18 and 24 years of age), with 65 per cent of them citing it. This is significant because 79 per cent of this age group expressed a willingness to pay for content, the highest rate of any age group.

Some significant trends have emerged as video over the Internet matures as a platform. Those surveyed had very specific viewing preferences, linking particular devices with specific forms of content. When it comes to viewing high-quality video, at longer lengths, screen size matters.

For watching full-length videos and TV series, 72 per cent of those surveyed preferred the television set. The PC/laptop (41 per cent) came in second, followed by tablets (25 per cent) and smartphones (12 per cent). For viewing live content – such as sports, news and TV programmes – the device choices followed in the same order: TV set (50 per cent), PC/laptop (37 per cent), tablet (25 per cent) and smartphone (20 per cent).

But the survey also reveals a lack of consumer awareness of options for viewing Internet-based video content on the television. While more than a third (36 per cent) of those surveyed chose a connected television as their preferred device, the second- largest group (23 per cent) of respondents was unsure of the choices, indicating that the market remains open to new, compelling propositions.

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