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Linear TV boost amid European TV Everywhere boom

Consumers across Central and Eastern Europe have taken to multi-screen, catch TV and content in a big way, yet they are consuming more linear TV, according to a survey by Discovery Networks.

Called "The Rise of the Television Everywhere Audience", the survey conducted for Discovery by The Future Foundation surveyed 5,000 TV viewers across 10 markets, including Turkey, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as C & E Europe. It found people were watching more linear TV than ever before but supplementing this increasingly with online content.

Live online TV viewing had become commonplace in eight of the 10 markets surveyed, with 52 percent of the sample saying they had watched it in the last six months, the proportion being highest in Romania at 64 percent and lowest in Hungary at 27 percent under the shadow of a deep economic recession there.

TV-on-demand viewing at 40 percent is less common, except among the young and early adopters. UAE leads the way in catch-up with 55 percent having watched catch-up TV online in the last six months, followed by Russia on 52 percent. Second screen usage was still in its infancy in these countries, but with the Middle East ahead of C & E Europe and around a third of tablet owners in Turkey having watched live TV on their devices and 28 percent in the UAE, against an average of 25 percent for this particular country group defined as CEEMEA (Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa) even though it is hardly representative of the last two of these regions. Then over two-thirds of the people surveyed look up information about a program online on second screens while watching, while 34 percent discuss their viewing via social networks.

The survey painted quite a different picture from a report a year ago that Discovery Networks compiled with Telefonica Spain and Maxdome, the Video on Demand arm of Germany’s largest TV company ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG. That earlier study found that multi-screen TV was being held back in Europe by technological issues relating to content distribution to multiple platforms. However the latest report does echo the earlier finding that discovery and search had failed to keep up with the content explosion. Over half the viewers in nine of the ten countries surveyed in the new study reported they found it difficult to find something to watch, with the highest number of these in the Czech Republic.

Most viewers expressed interest in a service that could recommend what to watch based on preference, viewing history, and friends’ recommendations, and that would automatically record shows they might like. There was also an emerging desire for bite-sized content tailored for the second screen, designed for content snacking.

The report concluded there was a great opportunity for TV brands to do more with social media to engage viewers. While expert sources of recommendation about what to watch were still valuable, the opinions of friends and family, as well as online TV views, were figuring increasingly in consumers’ choices.