TV Consumption Up In 2010
In Australia and across the major television markets around the world, 2010 has seen one defining and, some might say, surprising trend: TV consumption is increasing.
That’s right - despite growing competition for people’s time from new digital media options, people around the globe are watching more television in 2010 than they did last year, and in some cases TV viewing is reaching record levels.
Among the key highlights in TV viewing from Australia and around the world are:
- Australians are watching more than 3 hours and 10 minutes of TV every day in 2010 – up by 3 minutes on the same period in 2009. This equates to an extra 1.5 hours a month.
- Overall average daily reach (of all TV) is at record levels in 2010 with 15.98 million Australians tuning in to TV every day. Commercial free-to-air’s average daily reach has hit a four year high with 13.4 million Australians tuning in to Free TV every day - up from 12.7 million in 2009 (yoy).
- The US Nielsen 3-Screen Report for Q1 2010 found people with TVs were watching 158 hours and 25 minutes of television in the home each month – an increase of more than 2 hours per month on 2009 viewing.
- The appetite for all forms of TV content continues to grow. Americans also watched more time-shifted TV (up 1 hour 14 minutes per month, or 14.7 per cent) and more video on the internet (up 11 minutes per month, or 5.9 per cent) in Q1 2010 than in the previous corresponding period.
- BARB figures recently published by the UK's TV industry body Thinkbox showed that between January and June 2010, people in the UK watched an average of 28 hours and 15 minutes a week of broadcast television – an increase of more than two hours a week on the same period in 2009.
- This six-month viewing figure is also 9 per cent higher than the five-year average.
Factors driving TV growth
A 2009 research paper from Esomar Worldwide Media Measurement, “TV Consumption is Growing – Latest Trends in TV Consumption Worldwide” identified that the developing digital media landscape is actually having a positive effect on TV consumption.
New technologies providing more opportunities to view
Rather than decimating mainstream television viewing, new technologies such as personal video recorders (PVRs), catch-up TV, mobile TV, and internet protocol television (IPTV) are fuelling an increase in TV consumption around the world.
The additional choice and control offered by PVRs means that viewers no longer need to choose between conflicting programs. Time-shifted viewing allows more opportunities for people to watch missed programs, or to discover new ones – with overseas research suggesting the technology is thereby contributing to overall viewing growth.
The push by commercial broadcast networks, both in Australia and abroad, to develop comprehensive online catch-up TV offerings is also contributing to the increase in broadcast TV consumption. Catch-up TV means that people never need miss an episode of their favourite program – sending people back to traditional broadcast schedules, rather than ‘dropping out’ of watching a series after missing a few episodes.
TV’s continuing popularity as the primary news and entertainment medium is also highlighted by how consumers are using new media to research, enjoy and discuss their favourite television content. Eurodata’s research found that the world’s biggest TV channels figure heavily in a list of the most popular websites.
PVRs, mobile TV, catch-up TV and IPTV are feeding into audiences’ (particularly younger viewers) increasing demand for ‘TV on their terms’. The Eurodata research noted the fact that newer TV viewing platforms such as catch-up TV, which are popular with younger demographics, are not yet being co-measured - meaning that the full extent of their television viewing is yet to be captured.
Measurement services around the world, including OzTAM in Australia, are currently looking at methods for capturing these newer forms of TV viewing. Advertisers stand to benefit as these new TV platforms open up fresh ways of communicating with their target demographics.
Continuous improvements to the TV viewing experience
Last year, despite the global economic downturn, Australians spent more on consumer electronics than in any other year on record. Canon’s Consumer Digital Lifestyle Index reports LCD and plasma television sales were up 23 per cent in 2009 - suggesting a stronger-than-ever appetite for an enhanced viewing experience. And with conversion to digital television rolling out in markets across the globe, the better viewing quality of digital TV is being enjoyed by increasing numbers of viewers.
3D TV technology, while still in its infancy, also promises to deliver a unique and enhanced viewing experience that has the potential to stimulate TV consumption, particularly in specific programming genres such as sports and movies.
These technological developments are contributing to an increased quality and enjoyment of the traditional TV broadcast, and indeed highlight the benefits of TV viewing in the home as opposed to alternative viewing platforms.
Content is still key
As Australia and television markets around the world make the switch from analog to digital broadcasting, viewers are benefiting from an increase in the number of TV channels able to be broadcast.
This expansion in TV channels, added to the growing number of new digital platforms on which to watch television content, means viewers have more choice than ever before.
Yet despite more channels competing for a share of viewers’ time, TV still has the ability to aggregate mass audiences like no other medium. The last 12 months have seen a number of television viewing records smashed both in Australia, and around the world.
The Grand Finale of MasterChef Australia set a new ratings record in July 2010 when a national average audience of 5.2 million viewers tuned in. On the sporting front, Game 1 of the 2010 NRL State of Origin series was the most-watched match in OzTAM ratings history.
Overseas, sport also continued to drive record-breaking audience numbers. The US Superbowl became the most-watched telecast in US television history, drawing a record 105.6 million viewers. Meanwhile, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games drove massive audience numbers in both competing and non-competing nations around the globe.
TV’s core strength as an entertainment medium, and continuing commitment to delivering must-see, blockbuster programming, will ensure its ability to attract and retain mass audiences well into the future.
Television’s ability to evolve across new platforms means that as digital technology continues to expand the number of media choices available to consumers, these new platforms are proving complementary to broadcast television – and are in fact boosting total TV consumption.
The key to truly realising the potential benefits of all of these new technologies lies in being able to effectively measure this viewing across all the different platforms.
The increases in TV consumption across major markets around the world show that far from being on its deathbed, the television platform is poised to enter a new phase of growth and evolution, aided by the latest developments in digital technology and an insatiable appetite for quality free-to-view content.
Published September 2010