"Seismic" shift in US, UK TV viewing habits

Joseph O'Halloran | 28-11-2012

Consumers in the UK and the US are changing the way they view TV and video content by increasingly taking control of how, when, and where they view it, according to Accenture's new Pulse of Media Consumer Survey.

Designed to present the major trends shaping the present and future of the media and entertainment industry, the survey revealed a huge amount of usage of over-the-top services, with exactly half of US consumers and 48% of those in the UK viewing OTT video through a broadband connection on their TVs in addition to the content they traditionally watch via cable or satellite.

According to Robin Murdoch, a managing director in Accenture's Media & Entertainment industry group, there has been a "seismic shift" in consumer viewing habits. "The connected consumer is now comfortable viewing TV shows and video on a variety of screens, as well as sharing opinions of that content via social channels or recommendation engines," he explained.

In the UK alone, OTT video consumption has grown at what Accenture calls "an astonishing rate" since March 2011, rocketing from 8% to 48% as leading players such as Netflix and Amazon's LOVEFiLM have arrived to commercialise an over-the-top market pioneered by the BBC iPlayer.

Surveying both countries, Accenture says that it is seeing subscription and access levels similar to satellite among the online video group surveyed. In the US, 27% of those surveyed subscribe to OTT services, such as Netflix Instant Streaming, compared with 28% subscribing to satellite. Across the Atlantic, just over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed subscribe to or access OTT services like Netflix, LOVEFiLM, or BBC's iPlayer on TV services, or Sky Go / NOW TV from Sky. This compares with a general 30% for satellite.

In terms of devices used, 16% of US consumers and 9% of those in the UK subscribe to game console-based video delivery services, and in addition 4% in the US and 3% in the UK subscribe to set-top subscription services such as Apple TV, Boxee or Google TV.

Crucially in terms of future development, the survey showed very positive attitudes towards monetisation in general willingness to pay for content, and found that more than a third (36%) in both countries would be willing to pay to see a favourite show continue. Of that group, 18% indicated they would pay $25/£10 or more, and half would pay $1-$4/£1-£4.

"The new media landscape has enabled curating, consuming, and commenting on TV and video content to become a simple, seamless experience," added Murdoch. "With youth leading the movement, we anticipate that these trends will intensify in the coming years."

Indeed, over four-fifths of US consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 watch some OTT video, with three-fifths watching at least a quarter of their video over-the-top, compared with just under a third of US consumers overall. In the UK, three-quarters of consumers in that age group watch some OTT, with 54% watching at least a quarter of their video in this manner. For overall consumers this figure was 28%.