Accenture: Internet Video Watching Spans All Age Groups

The majority of consumers of all ages in seven major markets around the world watch video content over the Internet via their televisions, PCs, smartphones and other electronic devices, according to Accenture’s Video-Over-Internet Consumer Usage Survey.

Among 6,500 consumers surveyed, 85 percent of participants ages 18 to 24, 82 percent of participants ages 35 to 44 – an important demographic to advertisers – and 64 percent of participants over the age of 65 are now accessing and interacting with video over desktops, laptops, Internet-connected TVs and mobile devices. The survey was conducted in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Consumption of video over the Internet is no longer a millennial-generation phenomenon; it’s an activity that crosses all age groups,” said Francesco Venturini, Accenture’s global broadcast lead. “Video over the Internet is well on its way to becoming a mass medium. Furthermore, it’s clear that consumers are ready and, in some instances, may be ahead of the industry in terms of the vision they have for how, when and where they watch and interact with video content.”

Although television still dominates consumers’ viewing preference (at 92 percent), the survey identifies the diversity of electronic devices that consumers use to view video as very evenly divided. According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents use a desktop computer, 72 percent use a laptop and 63 percent use mobile devices to access content. Tablet computers, such as iPads which are new to the marketplace, lag behind the pack at 21 percent, but it is just a question of time before that number climbs significantly, according to Accenture research findings.

“These results suggest a ‘form factor’ challenge when it comes to mobile video viewing,” said Venturini. “With broad access to video across devices with large screens, mobile video viewing will rarely be the first choice among many consumers. Because of this, providers will need to focus on creating video content specifically for smaller screens such as mobile phones and tablets or on creating programming that complements the large TV screen experience.”

Watching video on non-traditional devices is trending upward. The survey shows that in the past year, viewing increased on laptops (35 percent), desktops (28 percent) and Internet-enabled TVs (26 percent). These trends were seen across all age groups. Growth percentages for most devices were nearly identical for the 25-to-34 year old and 18-to-24 year old age groups.

The myriad of content delivery choices available in the digital world has also changed the nature of the entire viewing experience, including traditional TV watching. There is no longer a single delivery channel or device that receives the uninterrupted attention of viewers. Of those surveyed, 81 percent said they multi-task with other devices while watching TV. Nearly half (48 percent) use a laptop while watching, 41 percent use a mobile device and 28 percent use a desktop computer.

“This fragmented viewing experience may appear to present challenges to advertisers, but companies able to leverage this multi-device, multi-channel addiction of consumers across devices may gain even more viewer awareness and loyalty,” added Venturini.

When it comes to choosing their favorite Internet/broadband TV features and functions, the largest number of respondents (40 percent) pointed to catch-up TV, which enables them to watch content that they may have missed. However, only 14 percent of respondents surf the Web on their televisions and only 11 percent desire interactive and social networking functionality.

“Viewers want many of the same freedom of choice options that they experience when using their computers to apply to video consumption,” said Venturini. “They value the ability to watch content anytime, however, they do not necessarily want to surf the web and they see relatively little value in using the TV as a gateway device for other applications.”

The survey also found that the greatest percentage of tablet-enabled consumers (54 percent) is interested in using them for fairly standard video-on-demand and catch-up functions. Though 44 percent of tablet users are interested in the ability to interact with on-air programming to receive additional content related to what they are viewing.

The survey also indicated the importance of image quality and transmission speed, especially when respondents consider selecting new services. Of those surveyed, 48 percent identified clarity of picture and speed of content delivery as the most important technical features they look for in an Internet video service. This proportion was statistically consistent across all age groups. High-definition viewing was a distant second, at 27 percent. The ease of user interface in enabling search and content management, and the use of recommendation engines to point viewers toward content in which they might be interested followed with 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

“The biggest frustration consumers currently experience with Internet video is the time required to buffer, download and play a video,” said Venturini. “One of the major issues providers must anticipate and solve if they are to be successful in the IP video marketplace is the ability to handle congestion on the network and perform streaming in such a way as to deliver a high-quality experience.

“Consumers are strongly indicating that they are ready for a true multi-device experience – one that goes beyond simply replicating traditional TV on another device. They want an experience where content is important, quality is critical and personalization of the service is a must. Only through embracing and understanding new consumer behaviors will companies be positioned for success in the burgeoning Over-the-top TV market.”

The Accenture Video Solutions survey was an online survey of 6,550 consumers in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. The research was fielded by Opinion Research Corporation from March 3 to March17, 2011. The data has been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18 years of age or older population in each country.