Time-shifted viewing increasingly becoming the norm for UK TV viewers

Friday, November 15th, 2013
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Newly released insights from Kantar Media’s futurePROOF study on the ownership and use of digital technologies and media in Britain reveal that, whilst most people currently prefer to watch “must-see TV” at the time of broadcast, the signs are that this will soon change.

According to the futurePROOF study, half of the British adult population (53%) claim ownership of a PVR (such as Sky+, V+ or YouView) at home. Further, half (49%) say they have watched television on-demand in the past month, using any device. However, there is a high level of cross-over between these groups, leaving 31% of GB adults still in the analogue age without a PVR and not actively using on-demand TV (51% of whom are aged 55 or over).

There is a hierarchy of viewing choices for TV series that people really want to watch: live TV remains the preferred viewing option for most people (51%). This is followed by recording to watch on PVR (34%) and then viewing on-demand (10%).

But there are strong pointers to a not-too-distant future where time-shifting is the default behaviour for most viewers, most of the time, and live viewing is mainly reserved for event TV. It is those people who say they both have a PVR and have used on-demand TV who are already more likely to choose to watch a series via PVR (52%) than live (38%) or on-demand (10%). Similarly, those aged under 35 are less likely to choose live TV (40%) than time-shifting (PVR 37%, on-demand 17%).

futurePROOF reveals that PVRs are seen as more convenient and reliable than on-demand TV viewing. 64% of PVR users say they feel more at ease setting their PVR to record a TV programme than relying on on-demand services and 58% use the PVR rather than on-demand so they can keep access to programmes for longer.

On-demand is seen more as a catch-up facility, with 70% of on-demand users claiming they only use on-demand services to catch up on programmes they have missed. In addition, the availability of on-demand services on other screens is key to many, with 47% of on-demand users stating that they often use on-demand services to watch programmes when they are not in front of a TV set.

Trevor Vagg, Director, Kantar Media Custom, comments “futurePROOF’s qualitative research indicates that live television is seen as a convenient way to transition from work to relaxation and the best way to experience “unmissable” moments. The social opportunity to “media-mesh” with live content is also a factor that will surely continue to influence viewing choices. However, the ease of use and convenience of PVRs, and to a lesser extent on-demand services, is leading viewers towards a preference for being in control of when they watch their favourite programmes.”