Advanced Television

Brits embrace convergence

November 18, 2008

The British public are adopting an on-demand lifestyle of choice and control enabled by converging technologies. The widespread take-up of online TV services like the BBC iPlayer , along with significant penetration and use of Sky+ and on-demand TV services is delivering a wholesale change to the way in which respondents relate to television programmes and, to a lesser extent, movies. The consumption of audiovisual content is beginning a transformation which may already be reaching its destination for the consumption of music. While there remain huge pressures for content to be free, the hunger for people to watch “what they want, when they want” creates real opportunities for content owners and other businesses to profit from what is becoming a “Digital Britain”. These are the conclusions of “Converging Media: The Olswang Convergence Consumer Survey 2008.”

Olswang’s fourth annual survey, conducted in conjunction with YouGov, comprised a survey of 1,162 consumers. The four key demographic segments include two which would be expected to ride the convergence wave – the “Tech Vanguard” and the “Kids” (13 to 15 year olds), as well as segments representing the “Mainstream” and the “Laggards” – who help us to understand whether convergence is happening for everyone or whether there are some to whom it will never be of interest.

While more people still watch live TV more frequently than any other form of television, large numbers of respondents are spending significant chunks of time watching programmes on their TV sets from a variety of other sources: in particular, DVD recorders, digital video recorders (DVRs) and personal video recorders (PVRs), from which more than a third (36 per cent) are watching television content for at least five hours per week. On demand services, such as BT Vision and Virgin Media, from which 16 per cent of Tech Vanguard respondents are watching five hours or more per week; and television programmes on pre-recorded DVDs (bought or rented), from which 15 per cent are watching five hours or more per week.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents (and more than 40 per cent of the Tech Vanguard) are watching through iPlayer for at least one hour a week. 17 per cent watch legitimate online TV services other than iPlayer for at least one hour a week and 9 per cent (admit to) watching illegal online TV for at least one hour a week. This adds up to a huge amount of online TV. John Enser, Media, Communications and Technology Partner at Olswang, said, “Our fourth Convergence Consumer Survey shows that iPlayer has been the catalyst to transform online television from a minority interest into a daily activity, much as iPod and iTunes did for digital music.”

The iPlayer is the service most used by the overwhelming majority of the survey base to watch online TV, with 69 per cent of respondents using iPlayer more than any other online service. Catch-up TV in particular is fast becoming a part of daily life: of those watching online TV, 6 per cent (and 10 per cent of the Kids surveyed) visit an online service daily for catch-up content, 54 per cent doing so at least weekly and 81 per cent doing so at least once a month.

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