NEW YORK: Four in ten TV viewers are "digital enthusiasts" who subscribe to three or more digital TV services online in addition to maintaining a traditional pay-TV subscription, a new study has said.

TV Share of Clock – the first in a series of TV studies by market researcher GfK MRI – identified several new TV viewing audience groups, based on a re-contact survey conducted among 5,599 respondents to its earlier Survey of the American Consumer.

As well as the digital enthusiasts, who make up 41% of all TV viewers in the US, the study highlighted "on-the-go getters", who watch their TV programming only on mobile devices, and "TV 2.0" viewers, who access traditional and streaming TV content mostly through their TV sets.

Digital enthusiasts were more likely than other groups to use TV network apps for TV viewing: 44% currently use network apps that do not require a cable subscription, and 35% use network apps that do require a cable subscription.

A majority (57%) of this group were also frequent binge viewers.

Overall, more than a quarter (28%) of all TV viewing is now done via digital streaming. Accessing subscription or free online platforms via a computer or mobile device accounts for 16% of time spent with TV content; online streaming through a traditional TV set makes up another 9%; and 3% comes from other methods for accessing content, such as portable game consoles.

The study further noted the growth of mobile TV watching. Almost one third of TV viewers had watched a program on a smartphone (30%) or tablet (29%) in the preceding 30 days.

Despite these developments, linear TV viewing retains its appeal: "Watch a show live when it is first broadcast" placed top among the favourite ways to watch TV; and viewing "live when broadcast" accounted for 39% of all time spent using TV content.

Christie Kawada, evp/product management & innovation at GfK MRI, observed that a new type of video ecosystem was emerging. "These platforms are creating added demand for one another," she said. "Viewers are checking out more – and different – content, and ultimately watching more.

"Even digitally savvy viewers still value time-honoured TV experiences, like social viewing and second-screen experiences, thus keeping linear viewing strong in today's digital world," she added.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff