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Technology

Making Sense of New Tech

5/12/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

CTAM Tracking Study, Wave III

Conducted by Knowledge Networks/SRI, Cranford, N.J.

New technologies: Do they enhance the viewer experience, or confuse the heck out of potential users?

The latest tracking study by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing shows that service providers still have much work to do. The research found that although the number of consumers who say new technology has improved enjoyment is substantial (39% of respondents), a significant portion (30%) said that new technologies are complicated and difficult to use.

The report couldn’t track whether consumer enjoyment had increased: that was a new study question. But confusion has risen with the deployment of more new products over the last year. In 2004, 26% said they thought new technology was difficult.

There was also an increase in viewers who indicated continued confusion with new technology choices. That category peaked at 25% in the first tracking study, in 2003; trended downward in 2004 to 20%; and rose again last year to 24%.

When asked to interpret those findings, Dick Tice, vice president of client services at pollster Knowledge Networks/SRI, said that as new devices hit the market, people are less and less likely to understand all the possible features. Consumers may be afraid to try new products and features such as video-on-demand, he added, for fear of venturing into an area where they will be charged or because they might not be able to navigate back to familiar channels.

Appointment viewing — watching shows on their scheduled date and time — continues to rise, even with the steady adoption of time-shifting digital video recorders, the study showed. More than three-quarters (77%) still make a point of being home to watch hits like ABC’s Lost when they initially air, according to the study.

Asked about high-definition television, respondents who get digital signals from their cable or satellite provider were more likely to be interested in buying HDTV service than were analog customers.

METHODOLOGY:

CTAM’s “Tracking Study, Wave III” was conducted in October and November 2005. The results were culled from 1,209 half-hour phone interviews conducted among a national sample of adults aged 18 and older that subscribe to cable or satellite services. Results based on the sample carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2%. The benchmark study was conducted in 2003 to track the relationship consumers have with television and other entertainment technologies.

September