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Surprise Surprise…TV Viewing Is Declining

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Earlier this week I decided to cancel my Comcast (CMCSA) subscriptions, switching instead to Covad’s ADSL2 service, which is faster, for now. I didn’t even think twice about switching off my cable service, because frankly with the exception of baseball games and ESPN, I didn’t really watch regular old TV, opting instead to buy videos on the iTunes store or watch DVDs from NetFlix (NFLX).

2ipods.jpgApparently, I am not in the minority. A new IBM (IBM) survey of consumer digital media and entertainment habits shows that personal Internet time now rivals TV time.

About 19 percent of those who responded to the survey said they spend six hours or more per day on personal Internet usage, vs. 9 percent who reported the same levels of TV viewing. 66 percent reported viewing between one and four hours of TV per day compared with 60 percent who reported the same levels of personal Internet usage.

“Consumers are demonstrating their desire for both wired and wireless access to content: An average of 81 percent of consumers surveyed globally indicated they’ve watched or want to watch PC video, and an average of 42 percent indicated they’ve watched or want to watch mobile video,” said Bill Battino, communications sector managing partner in IBM’s global business services group.

While the findings shouldn’t come as a surprise to our readers, it is important to point out that the video market is going through a shift similar to what happened in the mobile world when kids started replacing their landline phones with mobiles because of the portability. As more and more people want their video portable, a comparable change is occurring in the video world. Saul Berman, who focuses on entertainment strategy and change at IBM, noted:

“The Internet is becoming consumers’ primary entertainment source. The TV is increasingly taking a back seat to the cell phone and the personal computer among consumers age 18 to 34. Just as the ‘Kool Kids’ and ‘Gadgetiers'(1) have replaced traditional landlines with mobile communications, cable and satellite TV subscriptions risk a similar fate of being replaced as the primary source of content access.”

Other key findings of the survey:

* 24 percent of U.S. respondents reported owning a DVR in their home and watching at least 50 percent of television programming on replay.
* In the UK, nearly a third of users who watch mobile TV reduced their standard TV set viewing patterns as a result of new mobile device services.
* In Germany, of those respondents who had watched mobile video, 23 percent said they prefer to view user-generated content.
* 9 percent of German and 7 percent of U.S. respondents claim to have contributed to a user-generated content site

29 Responses to “Surprise Surprise…TV Viewing Is Declining”

  1. In the bad old days of communism, people had no shopping choice. they stood in long queues to buy bread or cheese or vodka, from government owned stores, offering no choice in brands, no discounts, no surprises…no fun. And then , with the collapse of communism, supermarkets happened. Broadcast TV meets the same fate with the coming of broadband. And exactly like in supermarkets, people will build blind trails to their most frequented alleys. They will find favorites in sports, or music, or news, or social networking or whatever else they wish to haul onto their trolley for the evening. Search engines can come handy, but only when looking for something out of the ordinary. Favorites will rule normally. But is there no catch ? Well, there is – the bandwidth. It will take the next decade before broadband replaces broadcast…note that it has taken comparable time for phones. The Negroponte switch will probably partially flip again (everything becomes wireless, and on-demand), but then only in the next decade.

  2. I did the same thing almost a year ago. Ditched the Dish Network box and replaced it with a Mac Mini. The money saved on Dish paid for the Mini in 10 months, and I never looked back. Lifes too short to channel surf. I follow one or two good shows at a time, the rest of the time I’m too busy to just sit and watch any bs that’s on.

  3. Robert Seidman

    To Frank: while a lot of people are watching youtube on the Internet, not a lot of people are watching TV via the internet. And mobile devices? Please!! I’m the only person I’ve ever seen watching video content on their iPhone (and I see a LOT of iPhones in San Francisco). Mobile? Verizon’s VCast is so insignificant Verizon doesn’t even mention it in its latest quarterly report.

    Nielsen’s data on this is predictably a bit different. They do agree internet usage is rising, but if you read the story above, IBM didn’t say 19% were watching TV on the Internet 6 hours a day, they just said 19% are using the Internet 6 hours a day. E-mail, IMing, reading blogs…all things you can do with the TV on.

  4. The study was more about TV as the primary media device, not so much as to what types of content they are watching.

    People are watching media on their computers and mobile devices, which is taking away from time in front of the TV set. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, as there are a lot more options today for where you can watch your media.

  5. I wouldn’t be so sure about TV viewing declining, particularly when relying on self-reported data, which tends to significantly understate the amount that the average person watches. There is a stigma associated with TV viewing that doesn’t really exist to the same degree for internet usage–this tends to skew the results of surveys of this type.

  6. I think television still has one advantage over Internet TV (not that I watch the boob toob anymore) — that people can turn it on and just have it on. They’ll consume whatever is in front of them. They don’t have to search for it. (Or maybe I’m discounting the power of channel surfing?)

    It’s much more passive than Internet TV, where nothing ‘just comes to you’. It’s not about Channels. It’s about individual shows. Or even smaller individual 2 minute videos. It’s really hard to just sit down and watch. Even Joost doesn’t surmount that issue yet.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. Will TV in 5 years look like On Demand? Or will it look like the Miro? Or are they even that different now?