Brad Dick Editorial Director /
10.01.2010
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Boob tube vs. YouTube
Editorial director Brad Dick discusses the changing platforms on which consumers view content and reassures broadcasters that TV isn’t going away anytime soon.

Americans are increasingly viewing digital media in a variety of locations and on devices other than TV sets. In addition, the content they view is increasingly not “live” TV.

A summer report from Morpace Omnibus revealed that almost 60 percent of consumers watch at least some video on devices other than a TV set. In addition, just half (52 percent) of all viewing is of live TV. Also, the study showed that half of all viewers watch at least some Internet programming, typically on a computer. A growing number, now at 9 percent, use mobile phones to watch video.

This is not the first study to show that consumers are seeking new ways to access content. The numbers should inspire broadcasters to find new ways to deliver content to these viewers.

According to the study, “Content providers need to find alternative ways to offer digital video to consumers,” and some of the “new media forms are increasingly going to have greater influence on viewing and entertainment trends.”

The study also showed that 41 percent of cable/satellite viewers rely on a DVR for content playback, and almost 40 percent of viewers use VOD. Each of these technologies represents a potential loss of eyeballs.

An increasing amount of content is also being viewed via online sources. More than one-half (51 percent) of consumers view at least some video programming from an online source. Twenty-three percent use a streaming source such as Netflix; this doesn't include those using Netflix for DVD rental. What should be of concern to broadcasters is that 16 percent of viewers say their TV set is connected to, and that they view content sourced from, the Internet. Today, nearly one-half (48 percent) of all viewing content comes from nonbroadcast and time-shifted sources, which includes DVDs, streaming, VOD and the Internet.

The broadcast sky isn't falling, however. When it comes to news, the Pew Internet Project says that 78 percent of Americans still rely daily on their local TV stations for content. Seventy-three percent view network or cable news sources daily. On a typical day, 59 percent of adults receive their news from online sources and from at least one off-line source (e.g., TV, mobile, newspaper and/or radio).

The bottom line is that the TV viewing and media consumption habits of American audiences are changing. Usage of time-shifting technology is becoming commonplace. Younger audiences are comfortable with new ways to access media, and OTA is no longer the norm for many of these viewers.

Less than a decade ago, broadcasters could claim the high ground based on image quality. HD pictures, surround sound and HD events all combined to give TV stations claim to superior content. Today's audiences see HD everywhere, even on their computers. The competition is stronger now than ever before.

Yet, despite all the “new solutions” being thrown at viewers by the consumer electronics industry, no killer app has been identified: Viewers still watch and depend upon TV.

Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report “The Digital Home: Emerging Trends in TV/PC Viewership,” said, “Still, television is the clear winner for watching video in U.S. households, and no research survey suggests Americans will abandon their ‘boob tube’ for YouTube.”

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