Consumers are increasingly watching television content on multiple platforms, contributing to the fragmentation of the traditional viewing experience, according to findings from Accenture’s second annual Global Broadcast Consumer Survey.
Although the consumption of broadcast television content continues to grow, viewers are adapting quickly to new choices that change how, when and where they watch programming.
Accenture conducted its survey of nearly 14,000 consumers across 13 countries to assess how people in different markets view and respond to broadcast content and how they are adapting to new content delivery methods and platforms.
Among the study’s most significant findings:
- Viewing of all content – including television – is growing across all platforms;
- Opportunities in new media abound in emerging markets; and
- Consumers indicate a willingness to pay favoring subscription services.
More viewing on more platforms
The most significant survey finding is that while fragmentation of the audience viewing traditional television formats is continuing, the consumption of broadcast content on all platforms, including traditional television, is clearly growing.
The results of this year’s survey indicate that television viewership has grown since last year, with an increase in viewers watching six or more television channels (40 percent of respondents this year vs. 35 percent in 2008) and watching eight or more television programs per week (39 percent this year vs. 33 percent last year). The number of respondents who said they would also enjoy viewing content on other devices increased over the last year, with 13-point increases in the number who would watch content on personal computers (74 percent in 2009 vs. 61 percent in 2008) and on mobile devices (45 percent in 2009 vs. 32 percent in 2008).
Global viewing preferences suggest opportunities for service providers
One of the survey’s more striking discoveries is the big difference in behaviors of consumers in less-developed markets versus those in more-developed markets. For example, respondents in the less-developed countries of Mexico, Brazil and Malaysia were nearly three times as likely as those in the more-developed markets of the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom to express interest in watching television content on mobile phones (ranging from 65-71 percent of respondents in these three less-developed countries but only from 22-26 percent for those in the more-developed countries).
The survey also revealed that, in every age group, consumers are more decisive about their viewing preferences, particularly in mature content marketplaces like Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. This change indicates that consumers are quickly forming opinions on how they feel about content and how and where it’s viewed.
“Consumers are making choices based on what they’ve tried, liked and rejected and are now selecting content and its delivery platforms,” said David Wolf, a senior executive with Accenture’s Media & Entertainment practice. “If today’s content services don’t meet consumer expectations, it will be that much harder for providers to sell to them later, even when services improve. Providers face an urgent need to capture consumer loyalty now -- and respond to changing consumption habits -- or face playing catch-up against other content delivery choices.
“The modes of consumption that provide an alternative to the traditional TV experience are becoming part of everyday life rather than the occasional novelty,” Wolf added. “Consequently, providers in this evolving market must drive the consumer experience by offering the right type of content via the right device for a particular market.”
Loyalty to content remains strong; program discovery challenging
The survey also found that consumers remain very loyal to the programs they enjoy watching. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they watch some programs on more than one channel — indicating that consumers follow their favorite programs from channel to channel and have little loyalty to the branded content channel to which the content might be associated.
The increase in viewing platforms and programming makes it more challenging than ever for consumers to discover and obtain the best information available about programs they might enjoy watching. Despite more alternatives like the Internet and on-screen program guides that help consumers discover and find new content, consumers are still using traditional means to find content they would like to watch. These include commercials (selected by 40 percent of respondents), channel surfing (33 percent), recommendations from friends and family (30 percent) and TV listings (28 percent).
Economic realities and willingness to pay
Despite the downturn in the global economy, consumers revealed an increased willingness to pay for different types of programming. For example, 49 percent of respondents indicated a willingness to pay for digital service programming, up from 37 percent in last year’s survey. At the same time, a significant number of respondents (40 percent) said they would prefer to watch ads in exchange for free content.
Among those willing to pay for content, subscription models beat pay-to-play models in every age group, with paying a fee for unlimited programming (selected by 25 percent of respondents) proving much more popular than pay-per-episode or pay-per-season (12 percent and 9 percent, respectively) fee structures. Younger consumers are more willing to pay for content than older consumers are (60 percent for respondents younger than 25 versus 38 percent for those 55 and older), although youth are also more willing to watch ads and pay nothing than are those over 55 (45 percent versus 37 percent). Subscription service content appears the most resilient to the economy, as its consumption shows no signs of being hit by a drop-off in consumer spending.
“This underscores the recession-resistant nature of subscription models even in today’s tough economic climate,” Wolf said.
Additionally, respondents said they plan to spend less this year for most types of media content with physical content the most at risk. According to the survey, the biggest net revenue loss will be in DVD sales (6 percentage points less than last year), followed by on demand video (5 percentage points less), and downloading content to a mobile phone or PC (3 percentage points less). Subscription content showed no change, with the number of respondents saying they would spend less equal to the number who would spend more.
Global market differences
The survey also found that in the more-developed markets, interest in new content consumption declines sharply with advancing age. For example, the number of respondents in the United States who said they would enjoy viewing content on their mobile devices peaked at 50 percent for those under 25 years old and bottomed out at 9 percent for those 55 and older.
Conversely, in less-developed markets the level of interest is high among the younger demographics, falls slightly in the middle age groups, and then returns in the older demographics. For instance, in Malaysia, the number of respondents who would enjoy watching content on their mobile devices reached 71 percent for those in the 25-34 age bracket; dropped to 64 percent for those in the 35-44 age bracket; dipped even further, to 53 percent, for those aged 45-54; and jumped to 69 percent for those at least 55 years old.
“We now live in a world where half the population has access to mobile devices and where audience fragmentation presents opportunities for content providers to generate revenue,” Wolf said. “The key remains understanding consumers, knowing what they want and leveraging that data quickly to develop and deliver the right products and services for the marketplace.”
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