Viewers Still Prefer Watching Shows On Their TV Sets: CTAM

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Despite the growing popularity of viewing TV content online, most adults -- or 94% -- who subscribe to cable or satellite television services prefer to watch television on traditional TV sets, according to new research conducted by Nielsen for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

Over one-third, or 35%, of the adult broadband users surveyed for the Nielsen-CTAM study said they had watched at least one television program originally shown on TV via the Internet.

Of those who sought out video content online, 87% watched programs directly from a TV network Web site. Further, 82% of those who watched video content online reported that they went online to find a specific program that they had missed when it first aired on TV.

According to CTAM, this data points to the importance of strong marketing for the initial TV showing and the success that major networks are having by taking popular programs to the online platform.

Online TV viewers are not only catching up on their favorite shows, nearly 40% report using the Internet to get the scoop on actors and upcoming episodes.

Asked to choose among 17 online-content categories, online TV viewers said they prefer to watch shorter video clips when they go online. Specifically, movie trailers (53%), user-generated videos (45%), music videos and general news segments (37%), comedy programs (31%), and sports clips (31%) were the respondents’ top choices.

“Tracking how consumer behavior is changing as a result of new television viewing platforms is critical to our business,” CTAM president and CEO Char Beales said in a statement. “As preferences are made clear through research, cable companies and content providers evolve the product mix to best suit viewers’ needs and desires.”

In general, the study found that people are spending more time online each week than they were two years ago. More than half of the respondents, or 51%, reported being online for at least three hours a week last year. In 2005, just 41% of those surveyed said they spent three or more hours online per week.

Nielsen and CTAM’s analysis also found growth among services associated with traditional TV-set viewing. For example, respondents’ knowledge and usage of video on- demand services increased substantially between 2005 and 2007. Free on-demand programs and movies also experienced a significant jump in usage from 49% in 2005 to 71% in 2007, and paid on-demand usage increased from 46% to 55%.

Other key findings from the report include:

• High-definition TV subscribers are exceptionally loyal: Of those respondents who own HDTV sets, two-fifths (41%) subscribe to a HDTV service. These subscribers report making it a point to watch HDTV programs “every time” (20%) or “most of the time” (45%) they watch television.

• Digital cable and HDTV are poised for further growth: Interest in digital cable and HDTV sets is strong among respondents currently without these services or devices. Those interested in digital cable jumped from 9% to 20% and from 18% to 28% for HD TV sets from 2005 to 2007.

• Viewers are accessing TV content via new media platforms: Small, but significant, percentages of respondents reported watching television via desktop computers (14%), laptops (9%), video-enabled mobile phones (6%), or other portable video players (5%).

• Portable video platforms are slowly gaining popularity: While a large percent (82%) of adults in this study own a mobile phone, only 7% subscribe to a video downloading service. Of those respondents who own a video iPod: 35% have never watched a video on it; 16% watch videos two or three times a month; 14% watch videos once a week; and 9% watch videos daily via iPod.