'On-demand supports linear TV'
Tuesday, November 16 2010, 09:26 GMT
By Andrew Laughlin,

The majority of on-demand viewing is done by people catching up on missed TV shows, casting doubt on the supposed death of the linear schedule, a new report has claimed.

The Tellyport study, conducted by strategy & research company Decipher for TV marketing body Thinkbox, found that the amount of on-demand TV viewing conducted to discover new content has halved since 2008, falling from 22% to 11%.

In contrast, 89% of the 3,000 people surveyed said that they used on-demand services such as ITV Player, Sky Player and BBC iPlayer to catch up on scheduled TV, up from 78% in 2008.

Some commentators have suggested that the increased options available for viewers to access TV when they want could lead to a wholesale ditching of the regular schedule.

However, recent research by Ofcom indicated that UK consumers are actually spending more time watching primetime scheduled television, despite the rise of social networking, on-demand and other digital media.

Major shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor regularly attract audiences in excess of 10 million viewers, including ITV's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! returning on Sunday to 11.2m, the show's best ever opening night figures.

The behavioural trend has also happened despite on-demand TV becoming more established, with 80% of British people now claiming to use video on-demand services, up from 64% in 2008.

Broadcaster-operated on-demand platforms are the most popular destinations - 71% of those surveyed used BBC iPlayer (up 15% since 2008), 39% used ITV Player (up 15%), 36% accessed Channel 4's 4OD (up 36%), and 12% watched content on Sky Player (up 6%). Elsewhere, 33% watched TV shows on YouTube, which offers long-form content from Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The report found that two-screen viewing - in which people watch TV while also using laptops, smartphones or tablet computers - was done by 60% of those surveyed at least two or three times a week.

Just over half (52%) of the sample claimed to have shopped online while watching live TV, and 44% used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter while viewing.

Some 37% of the review sample claimed to have chatted online about TV content - programming or advertising - while 19% had shared TV content on a social network and 9% claimed to have joined a TV-related Facebook group.

The research further revealed that Facebook was a driver for viewers to watch live TV shows just in case their friends told them what happened and spoiled the experience.

"Live, linear TV is benefitting from on-demand TV services and social media. The expanding TV world is actually consolidating viewing around the linear schedules people have always had," said David Brennan, research and strategy director at Thinkbox.

"The internet has given viewers the ability to catch up with missed shows, to interact in real time via social media, and to even transact while watching.

"These things have combined to make live TV viewing essential. There is now no reason to miss enjoying the shared experience of TV and this benefits viewers and advertisers."

According to a YouGov survey for the British Video Association, more than a quarter (26%) of people view scheduled TV as an important way to socialise with loved ones.