Dolby: Consumers Using Tech to Seek Tighter Social Bonds During Pandemic

family watching TV
(Image credit: Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO—People around the world are looking to enhance their entertainment experiences at home as many seek to maintain a connection with family and friends by sharing those experiences via technology as a workaround of orders that limit personal social interaction due to COVID-19, according to a new research from Wakefield Research conducted for Dolby Laboratories.

The survey found 86% of respondents, among the 5,000 people polled from the United States, China, India and France, engaged in activities like talking on the phone (45%), texting (44%), video chatting (43%) and having live chats (41%) while streaming the same entertainment. [The total adds up to more than 86% because some respondents used more than one method.]

Eighty-seven percent of those who engaged virtually in a shared experience noted this was the first time they ever did so, the survey shows.

“Despite all of the challenges of this past year, this study has illustrated the power of entertainment in bringing us together with those that are most important to us,” said John Couling, senior vice president, Commercial Partnerships, at Dolby Laboratories.

The survey also gave TV broadcasters considering launching NextGen TV service a reason to take heart. It found consumers are willing to pay more for enhanced picture or sound quality. A total of 82% of respondents plan to buy a new device in the next six months to upgrade their viewing experience, it found. 

(Image credit: Dolby Laboratories)

Sixty-four percent report they are planning to upgrade their living room entertainment experience with the purchase of a new TV, soundbar, home theater speakers, receiver or streaming device. By generation, 73% of millennials plan to upgrade the living room experience, 68% of Gen Xers, 58% of Gen Zers and 50% of baby boomers, the survey found.

The survey also revealed that despite the proliferation of devices upon which to consume entertainment, TV still plays a huge role among older generations, especially in the U.S., where 65% of baby boomers say TV is their primary entertainment device. In France, 52% of baby boomers consider TV to be their No. 1 entertainment device. 

Spending on content over the past six months is also growing, the survey revealed. Gen Zers and millennials around the world are increasing what they spend on content, with U.S. millennials increasing spending by 38%. Taking a longer view, 97% of respondents from India say they increased spending on content of the past year, while 94% of respondents in China, 72% in the U.S. and 55% in France report the same, the survey found.

A total of 64% say they upgraded to a premium content service within the past six months. Reasons cited include using entertainment as a way to relax (62%), the social experience of watching with others (44%) and escapism from current events (33%), the survey found.

Wakefield Research conducted the quantitative research study between Oct. 1-16, 2020, among nationally representative adults 18 years old or older. Two thousand were surveyed in China and 1,000 each in France, India and the United States with quotas in each market to ensure accurate representation of adults 18-plus years old.

More information is available from Dolby Laboratories (opens in new tab).

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.