Content choices threaten to overwhelm consumers
Michelle Clancy | 12-03-2014

Almost a third (30.9%) of consumers are overwhelmed by the number of channels offered to them as video sources become increasingly fragmented and complex, says the Q4 2014 Video Trends Report from Digitalsmiths.

The freshly-acquired TiVo subsidiary notes that between paid over-the-top (OTT) offerings like Netflix, traditional pay-TV fare, mobile video, YouTube and more, consumers are faced with thousands of potential options when it comes to what to watch.

Indeed, it found that 88.2% of consumers consistently watch the same channels despite the ever growing choice of content, likely because it's just easier. Out of the respondents, almost half (46%) of respondents spend said that they ten minutes or more channel surfing per day, but a resounding 80.3% of consumers still watch only ten or fewer channels.

"Consumers are increasingly frustrated with the user experience delivered by Pay-TV providers," said Ben Weinberger, co-founder of Digitalsmiths. "Leading providers strive to address this ongoing issue by creating intuitive, second-screen applications that support next-generation video discovery solutions. However, with the vast majority of content viewing still happening via the set-top box, until next-generation, IP-based set-top boxes are deployed to the masses, consumer frustration may lead to increased departures to third-party service providers."

The Q4 2013 survey results appear to build on a trend Digitalsmiths identified in the second quarter of 2013, dubbed 'cord-cheating'. This behaviour is represented by 45.3% of respondents who viewed on-demand content from third-party video services and OTT services as an alternative to their pay-TV provider's on-demand offerings.

Based on several quarters of data, video-on-demand (VOD) rentals from pay-TV providers are appearing to level off, with a consistent 72%-73% ordering zero movies from their pay-TV providers.

"Digitalsmiths believes this is an enormous threat, and one that speaks to the need for consumer-facing improvements," the report said.

However, some positive news for cable/satellite providers is that only 19.6% of respondents are unhappy with their current providers. While dissatisfaction issues decreased slightly for the third quarter in a row, the top two reasons remain the same: "increasing fees for cable/satellite service" and "increasing fees for Internet service". Following in a close third was "bad channel selection".