Viewers redefining relationship with television

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 14 March 2015

Even in an ever-more digitally connected world, linear TV's importance persists and great stories and content still connect people to each other now more than ever, says research from Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN).

The TV RE[DEFINED] study explored how people in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, Germany, UK, Italy, Poland, Netherlands and Sweden watch television in this transforming viewing environment, it examined how they discover content and how their habits around television are evolving and found that almost two-thirds of viewers (63%) believe that television has never been this good.

ViacomFundamentally, the survey highlighted just how linear TV's role in content discovery is still dominant. Channel surfing was still the primary discovery method used by viewers today, followed by word-of-mouth and TV promos. Online was seen as a means of reinforcing interest, but it was linear TV committed them as viewers. The survey revealed that 69% of adults and 76% of kids start their viewing journey via linear TV which was the only source, currently, that satisfies both passive and active viewing needs. VIMM found that no other source has yet found a way to duplicate the discovery and viewing experience offered by traditional TV.

Yet the study also claimed to have uncovered a new and vital viewing segment: the engaged viewer. Representing 45% of global viewers, this segment had access to at least two secondary TV sources and were highly engaged with content. With greater access to what they perceive as great content, such viewers were increasing their engagement with TV and were watching more TV — including linear — content in general.

Moreover more access to content was seen to be basically redefining how viewers engage with television. The majority of viewers (51%) preferred to be able to watch TV when they wanted to rather than where or how. In other words, VIMM suggested, convenience is watching a show whenever viewers decide they want to watch it.

The ability to access content in multiple ways was found to lead to higher engagement with television only if that content is compelling to viewers. Moreover, the multiple devices that could be used to watch content were seen as just vehicles for delivering it. Mover, VIMM discovered that there was no dominant non-linear content source with video on demand (VOD) and subscription services are equally redefining TV. The viewers stated that what mattered most was the availability of quality content and then user experience. During the survey period, of those who have access to such services, 56% used VOD services, channel sites 53%, DVR 51%, SVOD 47%.

"In a short span of time, content has become available anytime and anywhere, opening up endless opportunities for viewing. Both rapidly and radically, we have seen TV redefined. In the midst of all this change, TV RE[DEFINED] shows that– more television is being consumed now than ever before. What is needed is a redefinition of our understanding of television," said VIMN's VP Research, Insights and Reporting, Christian Kurz.