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Watching TV: convivial, controllable and convenient
There are two main ways to watch TV: on linear channels or on demand (broadcaster VOD). The two complement each other and fulfil different viewer needs: we watch linear to share the live experience with others, and to have channels that discover, create and curate the very best content on our behalf. We watch on demand to fit all our TV into our busy lives and to catch-up when we’ve missed things. Linear is convivial, VOD is controllable, both are convenient and together they are increasing the amount of TV people are watching.
Linear TV viewing in the UK, whether live or recorded on a DTR and played back within 7 days, has been breaking records in recent years. In 2012 the average viewer watched 4 hours, 1 minute a day, according to figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). The third consecutive year that this has been above the 4 hour mark.
This is welcome news to advertisers, with average viewers watching 47 ads at normal speed a day – 44% more than 10 years ago. One contributing reason to this is the increase in multiscreening, which is encouraging people to watch more TV and remain in the room during ad breaks.
BARB’s measurement system alsocaptures any on-demand TV watched on a TV set in this period within 7 days of broadcast. This is a very small figure and BARB does not currently publish it separately, but it is predicted to grow exponentially over the next few years.
53% of households now own a DTR, like Sky+, Freeview+ or TiVo. On average 89.9% of linear TV was watched live (i.e. as broadcast) in 2012 and, in those households that own a DTR, 84.4% of linear TV was still watched live. The level of timeshifting in homes that own DTRs has been stable since the first DTRs were released over a decade ago. And of the 15.6% that is time-shifted in DTR homes, nearly half is played back on the same day it was recorded and 81% was watched within a week.
The important reassurance for advertisers is that any ad viewed at anything other than normal speed is not counted by BARB and is hence free, despite that fact that there is genuine value in them.
BARB’s figures suggest that the growth in the amount of TV that is recorded and played back is slowing down. In 2010, 7.6% was time-shifted; in 2011 9.4% was time-shifted; and in 2012 10.1% was time-shifted.
Once all households have the ability to digitally record TV programmes,Thinkbox expects the average level of recorded and playback TV viewing to settle at around 15% of total linear viewing, as it has in those households that do currently own DTRs. However on-demand TV will increase as a proportion of the overall TV total.
VOD (video on demand) is a term that refers to the sort of online video content that you have to select to watch. This can range from watching a UGC clip on YouTube to a paid download of a film via iTunes. But the premium advertising opportunities are in broadcaster VOD (or TVOD). It is important to distinguish broadcaster VOD – that is, TV-quality content available on-demand – from the rest of the online video market. Viewers and advertisers certainly do. An autoplay video banner is not the same form of advertising as a 30” spot in the middle of watching Homeland on 4OD, Downton Abbey on ITV Player, or A League of Their Own on Sky Go; it should not be valued the same way.
In 2012 viewers in the UK watched an average of 3 minutes a day of TV on devices other than the TV set.
There is going to be an awful lot of video around delivered by various online and mobile technologies so it’s extremely important that the industry makes proper distinctions between the nature of the content and the context in which it’s viewed.
There are many ways to watch broadcaster VOD. Until recently, it was watched mainly on PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But in the home people want to watch TV programmes on the best screen if they can. With more and more households having connected TVs – either via a Smart TV set, established or new; free or pay-TV set top boxes (e.g. Sky, Virgin, Freeview, Freesat and YouView); or via connected device such as a games console or a connected laptop – this is bringing more on-demand and/or catch-up TV to the main set.
Measuring all the new ways TV can be watched is one of the biggest challenges facing the TV industry. BARB’s figures do not yet include TV viewed on devices other than TV sets. However, according to figures supplied by UK broadcasters to Thinkbox, in 2012 viewers in the UK watched an average of 3 minutes a day of TV on non-TV set devices via established services such as ITV Player, Sky Go, 4OD and BBC iPlayer and newer services such as Dave On Demand – mostly VOD but some live streams. This is the first time the average amount of TV watched via devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops has been quantified. It amounts to an average of three 30-minute TV episodes a month per viewer (90 minutes). This represents an additional 1.2% of TV viewing, which is in line with BARB estimates. On page p46, Justin Sampson, BARB’s chief executive, outlines how BARB is meeting the challenge of measuring TV wherever and on whatever it is watched.
With the spread of internet-connected TV sets, Thinkbox expects that some on-demand viewing, which currently takes place off the TV set, will move to the TV set, as that is the screen people prefer to watch TV on.
Because it is relatively new and growing at an eye-watering pace, VOD gets a lot of attention. This is natural and proper, as long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that, despite the ready availability of VOD, we still watch TV in much the same way we always have: we generally prefer to be in our living rooms with friends or family watching programmes on the main TV set broadcast on ‘live’ TV channels. This is unlikely to change. In fact TV channels themselves are the most basic form of on demand viewing; you know where to get the sort of TV you want from a particular channel brand if you don’t have a particular programme in mind.
Broadcaster VOD helps people watch more of the TV they love. Ever since the first video recorder, people have wanted more control over TV and VOD has refined this, offering viewers more choice and convenience, an excellent way to catch-up, to act instantly on a recommendation, or to explore the rich TV archives – and all of this at a time that suits them and, increasingly, on the best screen in the home.
2012 TV Viewing
We've assembled lots of good things here to help with those tricky last-minute presentations; TV data charts, downloadable films and the ever-useful "nickable answers to frequently asked questions".
Here you can download a PDF of ‘A year in TV 2012’, Thinkbox’s review of what was an incredible year for TV. From ‘TV in numbers’ to ‘trends and innovation’, it’s full of facts, figures and opinion on the past year, all of which we hope you find interesting and informative. Please feel free to pass it on, if you do.