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Web Viewing Hasn’t Replaced TV—Yet

Jul 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Web sites are great, even the ones streaming TV content. But viewers still want to watch their shows on the big TV set in the living room.
The overwhelming number of adults—94%, in fact—who subscribe to cable or satellite prefer to watch television on television sets, according to a new study conducted by Nielsen for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, or CTAM.
Still, TV network Web sites are useful to viewers and valuable to the networks themselves.
Among the adult broadband users surveyed, 35% said they had watched at least one TV program via the Internet. Of those who accessed programming online, 87% watched directly on a TV network Web site and 82% said they went to the Internet specifically to find a show they missed when it aired on TV.
According to the study, that accounts for much of the success that broadcast and cable networks are having with putting their shows on the Web.
The survey also found viewers are using network Web sites to learn more about the shows they watch, with 39% saying they read background information about the members of a show’s cast, 38% saying they viewed a preview of an upcoming episode and 37% saying they read background information about a show or its characters.
Viewers also used the Internet to get deeper into their shows, with 27% of those surveyed saying they viewed a behind-the-scenes video clip, 26% saying they read or viewed a cast member interview, 22% saying they watched a blooper reel and 20% saying they viewed scenes deleted from a show.
Online viewers said they prefer to watch shorter video clips, particularly movie trailers, user-generated videos, music performances, news segments, comedy programs and sports clips.
“With so many viewing options now available via digital technology, it’s more important than ever to understand how people are consuming media,” said Susan Whiting, executive VP at the Nielsen Co. “This analysis shows a continuing strong appetite for watching television the traditional way even as viewers begin to extend their viewing to the personal computer.”
Overall, the study found the amount of time people spend online each week is up from two years ago, with half of those surveyed saying they are online for at least three hours a day. In 2005, that figure was just 41%.
“Tracking how consumer behavior is changing as a result of new television viewing platforms is critical to our business,” said Char Beales, president and CEO of CTAM. “As preferences are made clear through research, cable companies and content providers evolve the product mix to best suit viewers’ needs and desires.”
Other findings in the report included the loyalty factor introduced by high-definition programming.
Of the viewers with an HD set, 41% said they subscribe to an HD programming service, and 20% of those say they watch an HD channel every time they watch TV. Another 45% say they watch HD programming most of the time they watch TV.
And there will be even more HD viewers and digital cable households.
The number of people interested in digital cable who don’t have it already rose to 20% from 9% in 2005. Interest in acquiring an HD set is up to 28% from 18%.
The survey found that 14% of respondents using new platforms watched TV via desktop computers while 9% watched on laptops, another 6% watch on mobile phones and other portable video players account for 5% of the rest.
The survey is based on a national telephone survey with 1,200 adults and 300 teens who subscribe to cable or satellite.

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