Findings from a new report suggest that many young viewers would prefer their smartphone to change channels, part of consumers’ growing preference to control how they watch TV.
Nearly half of young TV viewers say they’d prefer their smartphone or other device over their remote to control their TV, according to a new report from Altman Vilandrie & Company and Research Now which found that 41 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds would prefer using their smartphone, tablet or computer keyboard to change channels and control their TV.
The report suggests that the decline of the TV remote is part of a larger movement by younger viewers to control the TV experience, with only one-third of 18- to 34-year-olds saying they watch TV shows during the normal broadcast time on a daily basis, versus 58 per cent of those 35 and older. These younger viewers are increasingly turning to mobile devices and online services like Netflix and Hulu to access television programs and movies. The survey also shows that the number of consumers spending less on cable TV, also known as ‘cord-shaving’, has increased as other delivery options like such as online and mobile viewing become more popular.
“Instead of the age-old argument about who holds the TV remote, families will soon be squabbling over whose smartphone is controlling the TV,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Jonathan Hurd, who oversaw the research project. “More and more, a new generation of viewers wants to watch TV and movies on their own schedule and with their own smartphones, computers and tablets. Consumers are removing the shackles of the traditional primetime TV lineup and creating their own personal networks of preferred programming and viewing times.”
Twenty per cent of consumers say they spend less on cable TV than they used to because online video meets their needs. This ‘cord-shaving’ is up from 15 per cent last year, the survey found. Twenty-four per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds have “seriously considered” dropping cable service because online video meets their needs, though only 3 to 4 per cent of all consumers say they have actually “cut the cord” or cancelled their cable service because of online video. Sixty per cent of this same age group watch online videos at least once a week.
Other findings of the survey indicate that 11 per cent of smartphone owners aged 18 to 34 watch TV shows and movies on a mobile phone daily. Multitasking with laptop and desktop PCs during TV viewing is common for all age groups, while 28 per cent of tablet owners multi-task with their tablet at least half the time while watching TV. Half of 18- to 34-year-olds say they would prefer an alternate programme guide, such as a screen with apps or images of available content, to a traditional TV guide.
Netflix is seen as an important factor in many people’s broadband subscription and speed choices. Twenty-three per cent of Netflix streaming subscribers who have broadband service said Netflix is the main reason they subscribe to broadband Internet. Twenty-two per cent said they would downgrade their broadband Internet service without Netflix.
Hurd noted that while the results indicate significant challenges for traditional service providers, particularly in meeting the needs of younger consumers, there were clear opportunities for cable TV providers to differentiate versus online video alternatives. While many viewers are eschewing the traditional prime time TV schedule, consumers still have strong preferences for more recent TV shows and movies. In addition, while online video brands are gaining ground in younger segments, consumers still have a clear preference for their cable operator as the provider of TV show and movie subscription services. The providers that can best integrate the flexibility of online distribution and mobile viewing options, while creating a user-friendly experience will be better positioned to retain younger viewers. In addition, a vast majority of all viewers, including 75 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds, are bothered by a lack of HD, indicating that providers have an opportunity to attract younger viewers with better picture quality.