TV habits evolve in UK

19 November 2010

LONDON: Television viewing habits continue to evolve in the UK, with trends like simultaneous media use and the emergence of "social TV" reshaping popular behaviour.

Networking giant Cisco commissioned research firm Forrester to survey 919 netizens, and suggested consumers hold an increasingly central role in deciding the technological and service priorities of media companies.

Over 60% of 16-35 year olds regularly watch TV and surf the net concurrently, with this audience also recording the greatest enthusiasm for streaming broadcast content via the web and the lowest levels of television ownership.

Forrester found what it described as "Social TV" - talked about TV shows on the internet while enjoying live transmissions in the traditional way - was a frequent pastime for 16–24 year olds.

Some 47% of respondents fitting this profile regularly participated in such an activity, falling to 20% among their older peers.

Similarly, 28% of people from the 16-24 year old category discussed television programmes they were playing back online with friends in real-time, measured against a 10% average.

"This audience will be most likely to embrace simultaneous consumption of TV and internet video," the study said.

"Coupled with the age group's device ownership, it's a fair indication that in the future a shift to Internet TV and interactivity will become more commonplace across all ages groups."

Elsewhere, 43% of 16–24 year olds expressed an interest in 3D TV, a total reaching 33% for 25–34 year olds.

The rising uptake of tablets and large-screen smartphones are also transforming the television and new media industries.

For example, 70% of interviewees access the internet from the living room, typically the primary domain for television, but now the most popular part of the house when it comes to browsing the web.

Quality concerns existed regarding digital TV, as 31% of people had experienced reception problems and 17% had previously switched their set off, and then on again, to resolve the matter.

Looking online, 72% of those polled had experienced "issues" when attempting to view content, and 42% instantly "gave up" on watching the selected material.

This figure rose to 52% regarding short clips, including user-generated footage on YouTube, compared with 42% for longer-form alternatives, like television programmes.

A 22% share of contributors would pay to receive guaranteed high-quality video streaming, while just 11% agreed for improved broadband speeds.

When identifying the organisations responsible for maintaining standards in this area, 43% named service providers and 41% handed such a status to the website itself.

Phil Smith, chief executive, Cisco UK and Ireland, predicted that video would be responsible for at least 91% of online traffic by 2014.

"It is clear that the growth of online video represents the next significant stage in the development of the internet," he added.

"This is part of a major shift in the way content is delivered and consumed but it also represents a challenge to Internet Service Providers and media companies."

Data sourced from Cisco; additional content by Warc staff