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What Viewers Really Want

A Study of Changing Viewing Habits in a 'TV Everywhere' World 1/06/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

Programmers and operators have been talking about TV Everywhere for more than three years now, which in the tech world amounts to just about forever. And after all that time, the technical infrastructure to deliver more video over Internet-protocol networks has certainly fallen into place.

Thanks to massive investments — from 1996 through year-end 2012, cable operators spent some $186 billion on their infrastructure, while telcos have coughed up tens of billions of dollars more for their mobile networks — fast Internet connections are widely available. In 2013, three quarters of all Americans will have a high-speed Internet connection and three in fi ve U.S. citizens will have mobile Internet access, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Connection speeds — so necessary to expanded video consumption on a myriad of new Internetconnected devices — are also getting a boost. With more than 160 million smartphones in the hands of consumers, telcos have deployed blazing- fast 4G connections in cities representing more than 75% of the country; and cable operators have deployed DOCSIS 3.0 systems, which allow for speeds of 50 to 100 Megabits per second, in more than 80% of their footprints.

But TV Everywhere is far from everywhere. While considerable progress has been made, the reality of delivering content to any device whenever a subscriber wants to watch it hasn’t lived up to the dream.

Some of this reflects the hype surrounding digital distribution, which has generally outpaced actual usage. When asked to comment on how changing patterns of video consumption are changing the TV industry, Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting System, likes to remind people that they need to focus on real research, not impressions that they’ve formed watching their own children or their peers in the TV and media industry, who tend to be more affluent, better-educated and more tech-savvy than the average American.

To support that point, Wakshlag cites a 2012 study from the Media Behavior Institute, which compared media consumption patterns of media executives with the general public. It found, not surprisingly, that media professional are more likely to use mobile apps (92% of media execs used them every day, versus 25% of the population at large), social networks (50% versus 19%) and tablets (25% versus 9%). Alternatively, they were less likely to watch TV (75% versus 85%) or listen to radio (42% versus 80%).

With that reality check in mind, Multichannel News’ Viewer Watch 2013 takes a close look at the realities of video consumption and some of the major trends that are reshaping the business. How much video are people actually consuming on mobile phones, tablets and other Internet connected devices? How much progress are programmers and operators actually making towards implementing TV Everywhere? And, importantly, what are some of the business issues that are holding back those efforts?

There are no simple answers to those questions, but this year’s Viewer Watch is once again designed to help better understand those issues by providing dozens of charts and two major features based on interviews with a number of top multichannel executives.

Like previous iterations of this special report, Viewer Watch would not have been possible without the help of a number of research organizations, including Horowitz Associates, Pricewaterhouse- Coopers, Magna Global, Nielsen, Frank N. Magid Associates, Fox Cable Networks (which compiled some Nielsen ratings data for this report), and Turner Broadcasting System, which provided with some original analysis of the impact of over-the-top video and other trends. Contributing writer George Winslow compiled the data, conducted the interviews and wrote the articles.

For the complete Viewer Watch 2013 report, please click here.

September