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Younger Americans More Likely to Use Internet TV Than DVR, Study Says

Jan 22, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Internet television is trumping digital video recorders as an on-demand device for the younger generation, according to the latest findings from research firm Solutions Research Group.
The study found that 70% of online Americans in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic have watched TV online at some point, compared to 36% who have viewed a show on a DVR or a TiVo. That suggests the young Web users will increasingly watch their shows on the Web rather than via traditional means.
In fact, the number of online Americans watching television shows on the Web has doubled in the last two years. Half of Internet users in the U.S. have watched a TV show on the Web, up from one-quarter in the fall of 2006.
The data comes from a study conducted in November of 1,200 Americans age 12 and older.
SRG also reported that awareness of Hulu.com is on the upswing, with 24% of online Americans now familiar with the News Corp./NBC Universal-owned site, up from 15% in the summer. The site still skews male, however: Two-thirds of its visitors are men and their average age is 33. That’s good news for advertisers, because the 18-34 male demo is hard to reach on TV.
Women are more inclined to visit a network Web site because 54% of visitors to those sites are female, with an average age of 39. Visits to network sites might be skewing female in part because ABC shows that are popular with women, such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives,” are carried primarily on ABC.com, rather than distributed widely on the Web.

142 Comments

  1. Sounds like the younger generation is pretty dumbed down when it comes to quality over convenience. Sad.

  2. I don’t think it’s a “dumbing down.” There’s a lot to be said for convenience.
    If I can get my “must see” programing not only when I want but WHERE I want via my laptop or other portable devices than that comes with a HUGE savings on opportunity costs.
    I like to think my time is worth at least something, so if I can absorb that entertainment waiting for a bus rather than at home in front of the TV when I could be doing something more productive then I would more than happily choose content and convenience over “quality.”

  3. I think this is a natural progression for younger consumers that have been brought up in a world where everything is online. So the fact that more of them are watching TV shows online is not too surprising. At Watercoler/TVLoop, we recently ran a survey in conjunction with the premiere of Lost and asked users the primary method by which they consume their favorite TV shows. 56% said they watch it live on TV, 30% said they watch it via DVR, and 10% said they watch it online. While I don’t have the demographics for the survey respondents yet, 50% of our users are ages 14-25. I’m happy to provide additional insight once we do all of the number crunching next week.

  4. I think it makes sense as it is all about convenience and reinforces behaviors already present. With the economy where it is, it will be interesting to see if consumers cut their TV cable bills in favor of the free option.

  5. First of all, when I was 20-years-old, I would have preferred the Web over a DVR myself. Think about it, 20-year-olds can’t afford a DVR and even those who can would prefer free anytime.
    Someone should do a poll to see how many 40+ year-olds listened to talk or news radio when they were 20. LIkely answer: Zero. How many successful 40+ year-olds read the WSJ (print or online) when they were 20? Probably zero again.
    Media and the devices we use to absorb good content can be considered very generational. Sure new media like the Web, mobile devices, etc. are playing a new and larger role in everyone’s life, but as our lifestyles change so does the consumption of content.
    Relate it to pro wrestling. Ask any guy over 30 when he was 18-25 if he watched pro wrestling? You would get a very high percentage who would say “Yes.” Ask someone now if he still watches it, and you can only guess how many guys laugh and say not any more.

  6. For the younger generation, they aren’t even thinking about convenience. It is just the way the do it. They’re on the computer everyday, all day. So why would they want watch things anywhere else. It just makes sense to them. I don’t think they put much thought into it.
    What will be interesting to me is how the network industry will react to these types of trends. Will we actually start to see network content become more niche, similar to how web content is becoming more and more specific in its relevancy?
    Also, kb2504, this isn’t a quality issue either. We are talking about content on Hulu and the actual network sites. You do know what that means right? It doesn’t mean user generated video. It means the same shows that are on TV are just being viewed online. So actually, the “sad” part is that you actually don’t know what you’re talking about.

  7. I fit into that younger demographic still, and I download or stream all of my TV shows via the Internet. I don’t watch them on my computer monitor, however. I watch them on the 50″ TV in my living room via a PC. Other people I know do the same or use their Xbox 360, PS3, or a set-top box of some sort to stream their videos to their television. Very rarely, do I sit in front of a computer and watch a video longer than 5 minutes. Anything longer and I want to be comfortable in my recliner, using a remote to control my experience instead of a keyboard. This is the future of the television. Eventually, all televisions will be web browsers that can browse sites like Hulu, Youtube, etc. or download torrent files.

  8. The short post on the research doesn’t differentiate “have ever done this” from “do this regularly.” Without that information it’s dangerous to draw ANY conclusions. A larger number of “I have done this” doesn’t mean more time doing it – more information is needed.

  9. Hmm… I’m not exactly young at nearly 60, don’t own a Tivo or DVR, and preferred to catch up on TV episodes over the net.
    I like ABC best with HD on my 20″ monitor, plus a few other networks. I watch Hulu when I can find movie of interest, and expect one of the new TV over web boxes will take care of all my viewing needs soon.
    Perhaps on my Wii one day if they improve on-line viewing so I can alternate between keeping “fit” and watching what I want when I want.

  10. It’s not just an age thing. I’m a 40 year old female and I see no reason to pay for my TV shows. I used to have cable, then satellite, then online video came along. I used to pay for cable and sat so I wouldn’t have ads. When they started putting ads on something I was *already* paying a ridiculous amount for, I said FU since they said FU to me when they added ads to my service. And you can forget paying even more for a DVR. Why waste my money?
    Hulu rarely works for me since I don’t use IE but I try it first since I’d prefer legal. Right now, I’m torrenting the latest ep of one of my fav shows. It wouldn’t load on Hulu. I watch it all on my laptop, flopped on my couch, curled up in bed, in Starbucks, waiting for a meeting to start, wherever. Most of what I get is high quality, HD video or direct from DVD rips. It’s what *I* want, when I want it, on the medium I want it on, and that’s the smart way to go.

  11. ummm… ok, guys, i think the only problem here is that uz r all only seeing things from ur own perspecitives. what happened to the saying “each to their own???” huh??
    i think it would b alot easier if everyone just let all the others do what they want. If someone wants to watch TV over the net… then so be it. If someone else would rather watch it via DVR… then who cares. We all have our own lives, our own personalities, and thus… our own likings. Y worry about what other ppl do with life? they arent harmin u in any way right? I mean, sure, maybe companies like AUSTAR are loosing profits because ppl no longer pay for cable… but thats life. we cant look at those who dont want to pay $$$ as the ‘bad guys.’ i mean… they r only doing whats right for them. and we cant look at those who do pay for austar as ‘silly ones’… coz maybe they just perfer to use the remote to flick through thousands of channels and not have to worry about searching the net, ect. WE ARE INDEPENDENT!!!!!!!

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