A new global research survey finds that consumers expect to be using a mixture of a la carte Internet TV and pay TV services by 2020 as they search for the optimal viewing experience.

The research revealed that only 18% of consumers in the US are expecting to watch most content through pay TV services versus 21% of UK consumers and 27% of US consumers expecting to watch most content through internet TV services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime versus 11% in the UK.

Internet TV services are expected to be more popular among younger consumers, with 40% of 18-34 year olds in the US expecting to watch most content through these services in 2020, and 18% of 18-24 year-olds and 20% of 25-34 year-olds in the UK. Whether a consumers’ preference is for pay TV or internet TV services, the research suggests that user experience is crucial – for those who expect to watch most content through internet TV by 2020, 41% in the US and UK cited it was because the user experience and recommendations were better. Of those who expect to watch more content on pay TV, 56% in the US and 45% in the UK think the user experience is better.

The research was commissioned by Irdeto and conducted among a representative sample of over 4,700 adults to understand and address consumer expectations around content consumption and future device usage. It uncovers trends in evolving viewing expectations and habits in the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, India and Indonesia.

Smart TVs and Alternative Viewing Devices are must-haves globally: 52% of US respondents own or plan to own a smartphone, followed by tablets (36%), games consoles (26%) and smart TVs (17%). Smart TVs are the device that more people plan to buy than any other in the UK, with 13% saying they plan to buy a smart TV in the next year. This is followed by tablets (13%) and dongles that plug into a TV, such as Google Chromecast (9%). In Asia-Pacific, smartphones (63%) and tablets (46%) emerged as the top two devices that consumers own or plan to buy within the next year, while third on the list are smart TVs (34%).

Smartphones lead in viewing content on connected devices: When it comes to viewing content through connected devices, smartphones are the most widespread choice with 65% of UK consumers owning one. This is followed by satellite or cable set-top boxes (56%), tablets (45%) and game consoles (41%).

Binge viewing and multi-screen are important for future viewing: While user experience is clearly crucial to consumers’ future viewing habits, for those who expect to watch most content through Internet TV by 2020, 39% in the US and 41% in the UK said that this is partly because they prefer to be able to watch multiple episode of a series at once, while 40% in the US and 39% in the UK also said that it would allow them to watch more content on multiple devices.

Access from multiple devices and the ability to watch multiple episodes at once are stronger drivers among younger consumers, with 53% of US 18-34 year olds citing more devices and 47% citing multiple episodes as their reasons for choosing Internet TV.

Not all pay TV is equal: Of those consumers who expect to watch more content on pay TV in 2020, 56% of respondents selected quality and user experience as the most important factor, with only 32% of US respondents citing that this is because there is more content available. Surprisingly, 56% of consumers in the UK cited more content availability as the main reason for expecting to watch more content on Pay TV in 2020.

“This survey shows that consumers expect a sophisticated, hybrid and personalized entertainment experience by 2020,” said Richard Scott, SVP, Sales and Marketing, Irdeto.

“These trends in binge watching, Internet TV and connected devices are driving force for pay TV operators to aggressively evolve their offerings in the next several years. A compelling multi-screen offering is already available in many markets around the globe, but it is crucial that broadcasters, operators and OTT providers ensure they staying ahead of consumer demand.”