The drive to live: on-demand strengthens appeal of live TV

- 89% of on-demand TV is watched to catch up with linear TV, up 14% since 2008 -
- Broadcaster catch-up services are the most popular destinations -
- While watching live TV, 52% have shopped online and 44% have used social networks -
- Social media chat and ‘spoilers’ are encouraging live viewing -

16th November 2010: Increasingly, the main reason people watch on-demand TV services such as ITV Player, 4oD, Sky Player and BBC iPlayer is to avoid falling behind with the linear TV schedules, which have been attracting record viewing figures in recent years, according to new research published today by Thinkbox and Decipher.

The ‘Tellyport’ research questioned a sample of 3,000 people in the UK and employed a mixture of quantitative and qualitative techniques. It tracked claimed viewing behaviour over the last two years as on-demand TV has become more established, and also ‘tellyported’ six families into the future of TV by equipping them with the latest TV technologies, including internet-connected TV sets and smartphones, and examining how their viewing behaviour was affected.

It found that catching up with live TV is the main reason for the vast majority (89%) of on-demand TV viewing, and that the desire to use on-demand services to catch up has actually increased in recent years, up from 78% in 2008. On-demand viewing is seen as ‘back-up’ viewing and the amount of on-demand TV watched to discover new TV shows has halved since 2008, shrinking from 22% to 11%. The shift has happened as watching TV on demand has become more established; there has been a 25% jump in the number of people claiming to watch TV on demand, up from 64% in 2008 to 80% today, within the sample, which represented the most digitally enabled households.

The research also showed that broadcaster-owned on-demand services are the most popular destinations for viewers. 71% claim to watch BBC iPlayer (up 15% since 2008), 39% watch ITV Player (up 15%), 36% watch 4oD (up 36%), and 12% watch Sky Player (up 6%). 33% claim to watch TV shows on YouTube, which was not a destination for professional TV content in 2008 but which has recently struck deals to show content from professional broadcasters including Channel 4.

The growth in catch-up TV also means that people are becoming more selective about what they watch, with 59% of those questioned claiming they are now more selective about their viewing compared to 30% in 2008. This underlines how people are taking more control over what TV they choose to watch.

Two-screen viewing and social networking
The Thinkbox/Decipher research revealed the extent to which two-screen viewing (watching TV while also using companion internet-enabled device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone) is developing.

60% of people claim to concurrently watch TV and go online at least 2-3 times a week, with one in three people (37%) claiming to do so every day. 52% claim to have shopped online while watching live TV, and 44% claimed to have used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter while watching TV.

The qualitative research found that Facebook was deemed unsuitable for a shared TV screen due to its personal nature with viewers preferring to use it on a laptop or mobile. Likewise, online ‘chat’ via an internet connected TV set was not desired by the sample. However, viewers were keen to social network, chat and research around TV content using a companion screen, such as a laptop or mobile.

The research also underlines the importance of sharing TV with other people and how the internet and the rise of two-screen viewing has created a ‘virtual sofa’ that enhances viewers’ enjoyment of TV. 37% claimed to have chatted online about TV content – programmes or advertising – with one in five (19%) claiming to have shared TV content on a social network.

Also, 9% claimed to have joined a TV-related Facebook group and the qualitative research found that Facebook motivates viewers to watch live TV programming in case their friends tell them what has happened and spoil the experience.

David Brennan, Research and Strategy Director at Thinkbox: “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. 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.”


Press contact: Simon Tunstill | Head of PR, Thinkbox | [email protected] | 020 7630 2326


About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, Five, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media, and Turner Media Innovations, who together represent over 90% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today's TV.

TV today has more to offer advertisers than ever before, not least because this growing medium remains at the heart of popular culture and advertising effectiveness. From understanding how audiences engage with TV advertising, explaining innovative and affordable solutions, to providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help customers meet their marketing objectives.

About Decipher

Decipher is a strategy & research company that specialises in evolving media and technology. Founded in 1998, Decipher has worked on interactive media and technology projects for a wide range of clients including Virgin Media, ITV, the BBC, Sky, UKTV, Channel 4, Sony, the UK Govt (DTI), Viacom, Warner Brothers, Yahoo!, Google and Disney. Since 2002 Decipher has pioneered research into the impact of PVRs and VOD on the TV advertising markets. Decipher are currently working with UK broadcasters on defining future formats for television advertising.

Decipher is one of the first representatives of the new form of media agency emerging, that are at ease with traditional media and the complexity of technology led TV. It is the first company to really understand how new media technologies change the relationship between consumers, brands and traditional TV content.


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