On Demand: TV 'Not Quite' Everywhere

Study Shows Strong Usage, Poor Availability of TVE

New York – Despite spotty availability, TV Everywhere not only increases the amount of time customers watch TV, but the availability of the service fosters greater customer loyalty to the provider, according to a study by programming giant Viacom and unveiled at the Multichannel News On Demand Summit here Thursday.

According to the study, entitled "TV Here, There, (Not Quite) Everywhere," TV Everywhere is additive to the TV viewing experience. Since they began using TV Everywhere apps and sites, 64% report watching more TV overall. This finding is even stronger among Millennials, with 72% watching more TV.

For those using TV Everywhere, the television is still the go-to source for TV shows and watching live. After live TV, TVE apps and sites are a strong alternative, rivaling VOD, DVR and other sites that don’t require authentication with a pay TV provider, such as subscription streaming services or other free sites.

But the research showed that TV Everywhere – as both a concept and a term – still suffers from a lack of awareness and understanding. There’s also no go-to source of discovery yet: 17% of users heard about TVE from an ad on TV; 16% were made aware by a spouse or partner; and 54% of kids learned about it from their parents.

While 19% of users say they have no problems with their TVE experiences, the top issues tend to be technology-related, including loading/buffering (24%) and crashing/freezing (23%). Content-related issues are far less common.

For non-users, the biggest barriers to adoption are a lack of perceived need, concerns about hidden costs, lack of awareness and screen size.

For the purposes of the study, the TV Everywhere experience was defined as watching full-length TV programs on sites and apps by authenticating, or using pay TV log-in information. The methodology involved digital online journals, focus groups and ethnographies in New York and Chicago. Online surveys were conducted with more than 1,300 Viacom viewers ages 13-49 and more than 600 kids ages 2-12. Participants included both users of TV Everywhere and non-users.

“While still nascent in terms of awareness and usage, TV Everywhere presents a huge opportunity for brands to grow and strengthen their relationships with fans,” said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks. “This research provides valuable insights into developing the best TVE experiences for our audiences who want to engage with their favorite content beyond the television screen.”

TV Everywhere also increases the value of pay TV subscriptions while strengthening loyalty to pay TV providers and relationships with networks.  According to the study, 98% of users say TVE adds value to their pay TV subscription, with 67% saying it adds “a lot” of value, while 93% are  more likely to stay with their provider due to TV Everywhere and 68% have a more favorable impression of networks that offer TVE experiences.

Users cite strong content libraries, flexibility and the ability to stay “savvy” as their main drivers for using TV Everywhere services.

On the content side, viewers use TVE for replay -- 31% say they they re-watch episodes and 22% starting a show from the first season and more than 60% say they use TVE more often than other third-party or free sites because it has more shows overall (42%), offers the shows/series they want to watch (38%), and features exclusives (23%).

Another major driver of TVE use, the flexibility of TVE allows viewers to watch shows when, where and how they want, with nearly one-third of users saying they use TVE because they weren’t able to watch the show live.

TVE users also consider themselves early adopters, with one-fifth reporting that they started using these services because they like to be the first to try new things – they are also much more likely to own and access TV shows on a range of different devices, including tablets, set-top-boxes and Smart TVs.

“It’s never been a better time to be a fan,” Rush said, adding that TV Everywhere allows viewers the flexibility to watch their favorite shows whenever and wherever they want to, and social media lets them discuss those same shows with other fans immediately. “It’s a great time to be a fan of entertainment and to be a fans of shows. These apps are total enablers of that.”

Rush said that to move the needle though, content providers and distributors have to build awareness, but not necessarily in the traditional mode, mainly because it is a tricky product to market and describe and because there is a misperception by viewers that the service costs extra. 

“We probably need to move away from the message around ‘Anywhere, Anytime,’ and more on the emotional stuff – tap into the fact that people love their shows – and somehow convey that it’s free,” Rush said. “That’s our challenge for now.”