Streaming catches up with linear TV consumption while viewers seek more ad-free environments, study finds

Streaming TV has caught up significantly with linear TV viewing, with only two percentage points separating the TV consumption methods, according to a report.

The annual Ericsson Consumer Lab TV Media report, which surveyed 23,000 people in 23 countries including the UK, found that 75 per cent of consumers now watch streamed content several times a week, while 77 per cent watch scheduled broadcast TV several times a week.

The report also found a 25 per cent increase over the last two years in the number of viewers willing to pay for access to content on any device that can be watched anytime, while the least popular method of paying for content was for individual items.

Of the 23,000 people surveyed, more than half said removing adverts from their content was “very important”, and nearly 30 per cent said they were willing to pay to get rid of them. The report found that consumers wanted the choice to opt in or out of adverts.

Binge-watching TV series was also popular among those surveyed, with almost half (48 per cent) saying they would prefer all episodes of a TV series to be released at once rather than in stages.

However, the cost of data traffic and the cost of content were deemed obstacles for consumers, while 60 per cent identified quality such as high definition as an important factor when viewing TV content. For sport and film in particular, consumers were willing to pay more for better quality.

Meanwhile, 35 per cent of respondents said they were not interested in watching content on a mobile device at all, but only 18 per cent of people said their devices being unable to stream content was a problem.

Niklas Heyman Ronnblom, senior adviser at Ericsson ConsumerLab, said: “The results of the study are clear – media companies need to rethink how they create and release content, while the focus for TV service providers is on delivering the highest possible quality for viewers, no matter what device they are watching on.

“The landscape is changing rapidly, and business and delivery models will have to keep up with that pace of change if they are to continue to deliver perceived value to consumers.”

According to the study, digital video recorders (DVRs) have fuelled a change of mind set among consumers, who now often consider tradition television channels as a source from to “harvest” programmes and films at their own leisure.

The data also highlighted an emerging behaviour called ‘place shifting’, where consumers start watching a video on one device and continue to watch it on a different device in a different place.

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Angela Haggerty

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