Report: Internet TV gaining in popularity

Thu, 09/04/2008 - 8:05am
Traci Patterson

Nearly 20 percent of U.S. households that use the Internet watch TV shows online, which is almost double the percentage of households that watched TV broadcasts online in 2006, according to a new report from the Conference Board and TNS.

The top two destinations for online broadcasts are the official TV channel’s homepage (accessed by 65 percent of viewers) and (accessed by 41 percent of viewers). Other sites used for access include iTunes, Hulu, file-sharing sites, social networking sites and Limewire.

Few consumers are willing to enroll in pay-per-download and subscription services, the report found. Sixty-eight percent of online TV viewers watch streaming video, while 38 percent take advantage of free downloads.

The report found that being able to watch broadcasts on their own time and at their own convenience are the top reasons that Internet users watch TV online. Other reasons include avoiding commercials and portability.

Nearly 72 percent of online households use the Internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis, and 10 percent cite entertainment as the most important Internet activity, according to the report.

“Most consumers are pressed for time and require flexibility in their daily schedules and TV viewing habits,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Being able to watch broadcasts on their own time and at their convenience are clearly reasons why we are seeing a greater number turning to the Internet. And, it is the reason why we would expect to see this trend continue.”

The top five types of shows viewed online are news, drama, sitcom/comedy, reality shows and sports, with user-generated content following close behind. Among consumers connecting to online broadcasts, 43 percent tune into the news, 39 percent watch drama shows, 34 percent view sitcom/comedy shows, 23 percent watch reality shows, 16 percent view sports and 15 percent view user-generated content.

And among consumers connecting to online broadcasts, almost 90 percent watch them at home; about 15 percent watch them in the office, and 6 percent watch TV online from other locations, including the library or a friend’s house.

“The shift from appointment TV to content on-demand is well underway,” said Michael Saxon, senior vice president of brand and communications at TNS. “Fundamentally, consumers expect content to be available when they want it, and on the screen of their choice – TV, PC or mobile. For consumers, PCs enhance content on-demand from simply time-shifting to place-shifting. Online content can be viewed in any room in the house, or at work or school.”

The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 households. A unique sample is surveyed each quarter, and the latest survey was conducted during the third quarter of 2008. Return rates average 70 percent, and the data is weighted to reflect the latest U.S. household demographic information.

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