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Mobile "place-shifting" puts power in people’s hands

The way consumers watch TV continues to evolve at a rapid pace, as they gain more control over program schedules and individual episodes. The power is clearly in people’s hands.

A recent study found that mobile viewing is increasing the overall share of television viewing, with 72 percent using mobile devices to watch video at least weekly, and 42 percent of them doing so outside the home. In another change, 75 percent of viewers multitask by using mobile devices while watching TV, indicating that television viewing is increasingly becoming a multiscreen and multitasking activity.

These new attitudes about TV viewing have been identified in a new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab, the company’s fourth annual report looking at consumer trends in the television.

Even late adopters are becoming advanced video users, the study found. As many as 41 percent of 65 to 69-year-olds use stream on-demand/time shifted TV and video content, including YouTube, on a more than weekly basis.

VOD is increasingly used for relaxation viewing while linear and scheduled TV is shifting to appointment viewing. The value of linear TV is becoming more focused on live sports, events and other content with high “here and now” appeal. Social viewing continues to be closely linked to this kind of content.

User-generated content is also becoming increasingly important. It is not only being used for entertainment, but also for education, how-to guides and watching product reviews. In fact, 82 percent use YouTube or a similar service at least monthly.

In its report Ericsson said we are witnessing the birth of aggregated, pick-and-mix TV solutions. The company’s stated goal of becoming the first easy to use, à la carte TV solution provider that aggregates consumer TV and video needs is within sight. That’s a good strategy, as consumers rank having an à la carte TV offering as the fifth most important aspect of their viewing experience.

“The ‘continue viewing’ function of many on-demand services is driving a new phenomenon known as place-shifted viewing,” Ericsson said. “This involves consumers watching one piece of content over a period, in a number of different situations by using the same service on different devices. It enables viewers to break-up the viewing of the content and turn a single episode or film into a mini-series— for example they may watch the first five minutes on the bus, followed by half an hour at lunch and then finish the episode while waiting for friends at a café.”

The average home entertainment setup is moving away from using separate TVs in each room. Instead, the study found a growing number of households use a large main TV supplemented by a number of mobile devices that provide access to services from anywhere in the home.

Many households will still have more than one TV, however mobile-connected devices will be prioritized over the secondary TV sets, as they offer greater access to content, flexibility and convenience. TVs and smartphones still make up the core screen combination, but consumers will use whatever device is close at hand when they need it.

Apps and OTT services are enabling consumers to proactively take control of their viewing experience and create their own solution by picking and mixing services. Ericsson calls it “prosumerism.”

“This behavior creates a challenge for many existing business models, which are based heavily around being the sole provider of content,” the report said. “The simplicity of setting up and using OTT channels, along with easy access to the Internet and technology further compounds this and means that there are very few barriers to prosumerism.”

Today, a new model is evolving in which content producers are able to sell directly to consumers,” the report said. “At the same time, aggregators are beginning to produce their own programs in order to remain a relevant and attractive choice. Consumers are also increasing their involvement in content production, thereby increasing their influence in the one area of the viewing experience still controlled by commercial producers.”

Ericsson’s research was completed in the United States, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan. In all, 30 home interviews in four major cities and 15,000 online interviews with broadband users were conducted.

You can download the full report here.