Connected TVs and VOD embedded in UK viewing habits

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 
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Connected TVs and video-on-demand appear to be embedded in UK viewing habits, according to a recent research conducted by FreeWheel in collaboration with Happydemics

FreeWheel unveils the results of a study carried out with the participation of Happydemics, which explores video-on-demand viewing preferences as well as attitudes to advertising in the UK

  • Four-fifths (80%) of respondents have a Connected TV, and 91% of these regularly watch video-on-demand (VOD).
  • The majority (61%) of Connected TV users surveyed say it is their preferred device for watching video, due to the enhanced user experience and the opportunity for shared viewing.
  • A fifth (20%) of Connected TV users surveyed watch free, ad-supported video platforms, and 64% indicate that they pay most attention to ads shown on the TV screen.

LONDON — FreeWheel, a Comcast company and a provider of video advertising software, today unveils the results of research into the use of Connected TVs to access VOD content. The study was carried out by independent research company Happydemics and aimed to discover how UK viewers use video devices and platforms, understand the reasons behind their preferences and explore attitudes towards free-to-access video platforms with advertising. The survey was also carried out in France, Germany and Italy.

Virginie Dremeaux, Executive Director, Product and Sales Marketing International of FreeWheel commented, “The results of this study illustrate how on-demand video appear to be a staple of UK viewing, and that Connected TV is the preferred device of the respondents for accessing this premium content due to the enhanced user experiences and opportunity for shared viewing.

“Consumers surveyed tend to be shifting to new premium video platforms across the streaming ecosystem, and are open to relevant and personalised advertising messages on the TV set. It is significant to note that interest in ad-supported platforms seems to be strong among the respondents, especially among subscribers to paid-for video services.”

Connected TV users surveyed enjoy video-on-demand

Of the respondents surveyed, 80% say they have a Connected TV set in their household. Those, who declared not to own a Connected TV, were not interviewed further. Of those respondents who have a Connected TV set: half (50%) reported they have a smart TV, which is connected directly via built-in capabilities; 47% stated they have a TV connected via an operator set-top-box; and 26% declared they have a TV connected via an external device such as a TV stick, TV box or gaming console.

The survey results indicate Connected TV viewers interviewed are heavy VOD users, with 91% of UK respondents with a Connected TV regularly using these types of video platforms. On average they claim to use between four and five VOD platforms, slightly above the average of the four European countries examined in the survey (specifically – the UK, France, Germany and Italy).

Connected TV is the preferred screen for video viewing for UK respondents

The majority (61%) of the UK Connected TV viewers surveyed identifies it as their preferred device for watching VOD content. The top two reasons for this preference are that they can enjoy a better user experience (59%), and that they can watch together with family and friends (40%). These opinions can be interpreted as indicating that the TV set remains a social device, where viewers share a common experience, even in the non-linear environment of VOD.

The only demographic group showing distinctly different attitudes towards Connected TV is 15–24-year-olds. While 38% of respondents in this age range prefer watching VOD content on Connected TV, 27% would rather use a mobile device or computer screen. The top three reasons for preferring a mobile device are the ability to watch video on the go at any time, a quest for privacy, and the intimacy of the viewing experience. This difference in attitude can be put into context by considering this age group’s appetite for multi-screening and for watching video on the go. Nearly three-fifths (59%) of respondents in this age range who like viewing video content on Connected TV, indicate that they do so because it allows them to use a mobile device at the same time.

UK viewers surveyed appear to be open to ad-supported video

According to the survey results, Connected TV users access a variety of video platforms, with 63% saying they pay for a subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) service, 45% claiming to use broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) catch-up provisions, and 20% reporting they use free-to-access advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) platforms. SVOD subscribers surveyed appear to be keen to explore AVOD platforms, with 28% already using them regularly, 24% considering using them alongside SVOD, and 14% interested in substituting them for their paid-for service.

With 20% of Connected TV users already watching ad-supported video services, AVOD is more advanced in the UK than across the other four European countries surveyed, where the overall average is 16%. Furthermore, UK respondents that connect their TV set using an external device such as a set-top-box, TV stick or games console, are more likely to watch ad-supported video, with 28% using an AVOD platform. This trend may be related to better distribution and an easier access to AVOD platforms on these devices.

According to the survey, the perception of advertising on Connected TV appears to be strong, with 64% of users rating this device as their first screen where they pay most attention to ads. Over half (58%) of Connected TV users find advertising less intrusive on this screen than on other screens. The majority (59%) prefer personalised ads that are relevant to their individual interests, increasing to 66% among the 15-24 age group.

Methodology

The study was carried out between 17th and 23rd February 2021 in partnership with independent research company Happydemics. The survey was completed by 1,006 respondents who are representative of the UK population. The 20% that reported they did not have a Connected TV in their household were not asked any further questions. The survey was also conducted in France with 1,129 respondents, in Germany with 1,015 respondents, and in Italy with 1,302 respondents, resulting in a total of 4,452 respondents across the four European countries surveyed between 17th February and 5th March 2021.

Links: FreeWheel; Happydemics