LONDON: The spread of PVRs and on-demand services will soon result in time-shift viewing becoming the default option for UK consumers, a new report has argued.

Around 2,000 people from Kantar Media's TGI database were interviewed via telephone for the insight provider's futurePROOF study on the ownership and use of digital technologies and media in Britain. This revealed that whilst most people currently prefer to watch "must-see TV" at the time of broadcast, there were signs that this could be about to change.

Just over half of the British adult population (53%) claimed ownership of a PVR (such as Sky+, V+ or YouView) at home, while a similar proportion (49%) said they had watched television on-demand in the previous month, using any device.

The study further established a hierarchy of viewing choices for TV series that people particularly wanted to watch. Live TV remained the preferred viewing option, but only just, as 51% chose this, ahead of 34% opting to watch on PVR and 10% using on-demand services.

Kantar Media pointed out, however, that people who said they had a PVR and had used on-demand TV were already more likely to choose to watch a series via PVR (52%) than live (38%) or on-demand (10%).

And an age differentiation was also apparent, with those under 35 being less likely to choose live TV (40%) than time-shifting in some form (PVR 37%, on-demand 17%).

In addition, the futurePROOF study showed that that PVRs were seen as more convenient and reliable than on-demand TV viewing. Almost two thirds (64%) of PVR users were more at ease setting that device to record a TV programme than relying on on-demand services . And 58% said they used the PVR rather than on-demand so they could keep access to programmes for longer.

On-demand, in contrast, was regarded primarily as a catch-up facility, with 70% of on-demand users saying they only used this service in order to catch up on programmes they had missed. Many also found the availability of such services on other screens useful (47%) for watching when not in front of a TV set.

Trevor Vagg, Director, Kantar Media Custom, observed that the ease of use and convenience offered by PVRs and on-demand services had resulted in a growing viewer preference for control over when they watched.

"The social opportunity to "media-mesh" with live content is also a factor that will surely continue to influence viewing choices," he added.

Data sourced from Kantar Media; additional content by Warc staff