What Viewers Really Want


For many years, the arrival
of the International Consumer
Electronics Show
and the launch of a slew
of new devices promising
consumers new ways to
watch TV shows and movies
just about anywhere
seemed to confirm all the
usual worries that over-the-top video was
about to wreak havoc on the traditional TV
business. If the dismal economic news of
the last two years wasn’t bad enough, the
long-term trends seemed worse.

This year, however, the January 2011
CES in Las Vegas may well kick off a much
brighter outlook for video distribution and
the multichannel-TV industry. To be sure,
consumer-electronics manufacturers will
once again bring more tablets and connected
TVs to the market and consumers will,
as usual, use these devices to watch more
video than ever before. But instead of these
devices floating around the margins of the
multichannel business like a pack of vandals
getting ready to steal your lunch, they
are increasingly becoming an integral part
of multichannel TV.

By the middle of 2011, multichannel operators
are expected to make “TV Everywhere”
services — which allow consumers
to access content on TV, online and, ultimately,
on mobile devices — available in
the majority of U.S. homes.

Even better, those deployments are coming
pre-packaged with workable business
models. This spring, Nielsen will begin delivering
combined TV and online ratings,
which will keep their advertisers happy
and encourage programmers to make more
of their most popular content available on
those platforms.

That doesn’t mean all the issues surrounding
multiplatform video have been
solved. As this special issue notes, many
thorny issues remain.

To help our readers navigate this rapidly
changing landscape, Multichannel News
is once again producing its annual “Viewer
Watch” issue. To cover the changing patterns
of video usage and the ways in which
those trends have transformed the TV business,
this year’s Viewer Watch includes two
pages of stories based on extensive interviews
with executives, researchers and analysts,
and nine pages of data covering all
aspects of the TV business.

Much of the focus is on the future, with
charts providing projections for a wide variety
of digital services, from multichannel
subscribers to digital video recorder and
HDTV homes. But this report is also designed
to provide readers a sense of where
the industry is today, with data on current
penetration and video usage, as well
as rankings of the top-10 cable networks in
various demographics.

Among the research organizations that
were particularly helpful in providing data,
we’d like to thank Horowitz Associates,
Magna Global, PricewaterhouseCoopers,
The Nielsen Company and Fox Cable Networks,
which compiled some Nielsen ratings
data for this report.

Contributing writer George Winslow
compiled the data for this special issue,
conducted the interviews and wrote the articles.