CTAM, Nielsen research: Adult viewers still prefer TVs for viewing

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 8:20am
Mike Robuck

While the amount of online video being consumed seems to be growing exponentially, don’t count out the TV set just yet, according to research conducted by The Nielsen Co. for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM).

The research found that 94 percent of adults who subscribed to cable or satellite TV services preferred to watch content on their TV sets.

More than one-third of the adult broadband users  surveyed for the Nielsen-CTAM study said they had watched at least one television program originally shown on TV via the Internet. Of those who sought out video content online, 87 percent watched television programs directly from a TV network Web site. 

Further, 82 percent of those who watched video content online reported that they went online to find a specific television program that they had missed when it first aired on TV. According to CTAM, this indicated the importance of strong marketing for the initial TV showing and the success that major networks are having by taking popular programs to the online platform.

When asked to choose among 17 online content categories, online television viewers said they prefer to watch shorter video clips when they go online. Specifically, movie trailers (53 percent), user-generated videos (45 percent), music videos and general news segments (37 percent), comedy programs (31 percent) and sports clips (31 percent) were among the top choices.

“Tracking how consumer behavior is changing as a result of new television viewing platforms is critical to our business,” said Char Beales, president and CEO of CTAM. “As preferences are made clear through research, cable companies and content providers evolve the product mix to best suit viewers’ needs and desires.”

The study found that people are spending more time online each week than they were two years ago. More than half of the respondents (51 percent) reported being online for at least three hours a week last year. In 2005, just 41 percent of those surveyed said they spent three or more hours online per week.

Nielsen and CTAM’s analysis also found growth among services associated with traditional TV set viewing. For example, respondents’ knowledge and usage of video-on-demand (VOD) services increased substantially between 2005 and 2007. Free on-demand programs and movies also experienced a significant jump in usage, from 49 percent in 2005 to 71 percent in 2007, and paid on-demand usage increased from 46 percent to 55 percent.

Other key findings from the report included:

  • HDTV subscribers are exceptionally loyal: Of those respondents who own HDTV sets, two-fifths (41 percent) subscribed to an HD programming service. These subscribers reported making it a point to watch HD programs “every time” (20 percent) or “most of the time” (45 percent) that they watch television.
  • Digital cable and HDTV are poised for further growth: Interest in digital cable and HDTV sets was strong among respondents currently without these services or devices. Those interested in digital cable jumped from 9 percent to 20 percent, and from 18 percent to 28 percent for HD TV sets, from 2005 to 2007.
  • Viewers are accessing TV content via new media platforms: Small, but significant, percentages of respondents reported watching television via desktop computers (14 percent), laptops (9 percent), video-enabled mobile phones (6 percent) or other portable video players (5 percent).
  • Portable video platforms are slowly gaining popularity: While a large percent (82 percent) of adults in this study own a mobile phone, only 7 percent subscribe to a video downloading service. Of those respondents who own a video iPod, 35 percent have never watched a video on it, 16 percent watch videos two or three times a month, 14 percent watch videos once a week, and 9 percent watch videos daily via their iPod.

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