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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Dec 8

Written by:
12/8/2008 4:00 AM  RssIcon

Multiple devicesAmericans want their TV screens…and their laptop screens…and their mobile screens. It seems that despite the dire predictions of broadcast TV going dark, U.S. viewers are increasingly hungry for more content on their video screens.

In late November, Nielsen released its second “A2/M2 Three Screen Report,” which describes how viewers access and use video content. The bottom line is that Americans are using more video on more platforms than ever before.

The report, shows that the average U.S. viewer watches approximately 142 hours of television a month. That’s 4.75 hours per day!

In addition, people who use the Internet, are online about 27 hours per month. Those with mobile phones used them to watch about three hours of content per month.

Susan Whiting, vice chairperson for Nielsen, said, “TV use is at an all-time high, yet people are also using the Internet more often, 31 percent of which is happening simultaneously.” I assume this means viewers are surfing while they watch TV.

So what does all this data suggest?

First, today’s viewer is consuming five more hours of television per month this year than last. And, if the economy continues to tank, other surveys suggest that TV usage will further increase.

Second, viewers are increasingly using technology to time shift their viewing to meet the needs of their schedules. Broadcast used to be a strictly linear experience. Programs would take place at particular times and the audience was expected to be there to watch them at that time. This year’s survey revealed that the typical viewer watches more than six hours of time-shifted TV a month. Interestingly, this is twice the amount of time viewers spent watching Internet video. Looks like the Internet is not the death of television!

Third, today’s mobile society will take video anywhere they can get it. That means consumers increasingly expect to be able to view content on their mobile devices, phones, PDAs and computers. Are you providing it?

Fourth, total household TV viewing has increased every year for the past 10 years. In fact, since 1998, per household viewing has increased from just over seven per day to more than eight hours per day. All this data suggests to me that our industry is far from being a video dinosaur. As long as broadcasters focus on supplying the prime content viewers want, stations will have an eager audience.

Viewers may not always watch your programs in a linear block as they are transmitted, but they will watch them—along with the commercials.

For me, the data suggests that viewers are still hungry for good content. And, that they will go to certain lengths to experience that content. However, many viewers will seek to time shift their viewing, something broadcasters have no control over. This means that broadcasters can no longer simply throw out programs, expecting viewers to eagerly gather around the CRT TV set. Instead, we need to provide high-quality content, in a convenient package at times viewers choose to use it. If we’ll do that, we can all retire from this business successfully, no matter how far away that goal might be.

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