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Over Half of Americans Have Watched TV Shows Via "Streaming"

Streaming is among the top ways 18-35 year olds watch television programs

NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans' television viewing options continue to grow.  First cable, and then satellite services, expanded the amount and variety of content Americans could expect to find in their living rooms.  More recently, DVRs, cable- or satellite-provided on-demand programming, along with digitally streamed programming, have allowed Americans to watch what they want, when they want, wherever they like and on whichever device they choose.  But how are all of these possibilities really affecting Americans' overall TV viewing habits?  And how are they likely to change in the near future? 

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Over half of Americans (53%) indicate having watched digitally streamed TV programming on any device, and streaming is well on its way to becoming a dominant means of viewership among 18-35 year olds, nearly tying top-ranked live feed TV (as it airs) as the way or among the ways they most often watch TV programming (44% live feed TV, 41% streaming).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,343 adults surveyed online between October 10 and 15, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Despite U.S. adults – particularly those 35 and under – clearly seeing streaming as a viable viewing option, our TV screens are far from endangered:  when asked to select the way or ways in which they most often watch television programs, roughly nine in ten Americans (89%) point to their TV sets, sans streaming.

Though they are watching television programming on a TV screen, whether over the air or through cable or satellite providers, American are far from unanimous on how they do so:  while over half (56%) identify a live feed as the way, or one of the ways, they most often watch TV programs, roughly three in ten each specify watching recorded (32%) or cable- or satellite-provided on-demand (29%) programming.

As for streaming – while it may not be overtaking traditional TV viewership methods today, it is by no means an afterthought:  a combined three in ten Americans (30%) have the ability to watch streamed programming on their TV sets (19% via set top boxes or game systems, 17% via Internet-compatible TV sets), and two in ten (20%) list streaming – on any device – as among the ways they most often watch TV programs. 

Additionally, there is cause to expect growth in the streaming of TV content:  two in ten Americans indicate that they are watching more online/streaming TV content now than a year ago (20%) and that that they expect to be watching more a year from now (19%).  And among those not watching more when compared to a year ago, roughly six in ten (59%) indicate that there are factors which could encourage them to watch more online/streaming TV programming; top factors include improved free streaming options (31%), access to programming they currently cannot (or don't think they can) get via streaming (20%), not having to watch on a computer screen (19%), access to a sufficiently fast connection (17%) and ease of access (17%).


Streaming proving a fit for households with children

Americans living in households with children appear to be an especially strong market for TV streaming.  Those with children in their households are more likely than those without to:

  • own many of the streaming compatible devices asked about:
    • Smartphone (62% among those with children in their households vs. 40% among those without),
    • TV with Internet access (either natively or via a box or game system; 38% with vs. 27% without),
    • Tablet (31% with vs. 21% without);
  • have ever watched streamed TV programs (60% with vs. 49% without);
  • report watching more (24% with vs. 18% without) or the same amount (44% with vs. 36% without) of online or streaming TV content than a year ago; and,
  • anticipate watching more (27% with vs. 15% without) online/streaming TV content a year from now.

Vying for attention

Regardless of how Americans watch TV programs, few are only watching:  roughly eight in ten (81%) report doing other things while watching TV.  More specifically, nearly two-thirds (65%) engage in online activities; over one-third (37%) read a book, magazine or newspaper, with an additional 11% reading a book on an electronic reading device; roughly one-third (35%) text and one-fourth (25%) do other things.

So What?

TV advertising has grown increasingly complex in recent years; gone are the days of simply choosing which programs to support and in which markets.  Now advertisers must also consider how viewers will be watching, on what device, and – particularly for time-sensitive advertising – when.  "This adds challenges to digital media planners and agencies needing to capture and engage audiences," explains Harris Interactive Media Practice VP Rhona Wulf.  With the 35-and-under age group showing particularly strong streaming and multi-screening, along with those in households with children, "those looking to speak to these markets are under particular pressure to establish multi-platform approaches."

On the content end of the business, Wulf explains that "the providers who can most effectively speak to the impediments holding up streaming viewership (ease of use, lack of desired programming, etc.) will have a significant advantage in the emerging battle for streaming dominance."

"Furthermore," continues Wulf, "with early pilot releases via streaming technology now becoming a major part of some new shows' rollouts, buzz can build for the right programs long before they ever hit the more traditional airwaves.  But this approach only makes sense for programs targeting the audiences most likely to take advantage of the streaming format." 

Still another industry likely to be impacted by growth in TV content streaming is that of Internet service and mobile data providers, who are likely to see continued demand for more and more bandwidth.

"In short," summarizes Wulf, "What we're seeing in streaming TV viewership is likely to have an impact not just industry-wide, but industries-wide."

 

TABLE 1

WAYS HAVE EVER WATCHED TELEVISION PROGRAMS

"In which of the following ways have you ever watched television shows?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cable/Satellite in real time [NET]

83

75

84

88

90

83

84

78

86

Cable TV provider (in real time as the program is aired)

65

63

62

66

73

64

66

60

68

Satellite TV provider (in real time as the program is aired)

35

33

39

35

32

36

34

38

34

Streaming [NET]

53

74

55

42

25

56

50

60

49

Streaming via websites [NET]

47

68

49

35

21

51

43

53

44

Streaming via apps [NET]

24

40

27

14

10

28

21

33

20

Streaming via network-owned websites/apps [NET]

39

55

43

29

18

41

37

46

36

Streaming via non-network-affiliated websites/apps [NET]

38

61

38

29

9

43

34

44

36

Tivo, DVR or other recording device (recorded and then viewed later)

47

42

58

46

43

47

46

49

45

On-demand content through cable or satellite provider

38

42

42

36

25

40

35

39

37

By purchasing, renting or borrowing episodes or seasons on DVD

37

48

43

31

12

39

35

41

35

Over the air using an antenna (Broadcast TV)

31

28

32

36

28

37

26

29

33

By purchasing or renting episodes or seasons through a video on demand service (such as iTunes or Amazon)

15

22

19

11

2

17

14

19

14

Other

4

5

5

3

2

5

3

5

3

Not applicable – I don't watch television programs

2

3

1

1

3

2

2

2

2

Note: Multiple responses accepted.

 

TABLE 2

WAYS MOST OFTEN WATCH TELEVISION PROGRAMS

"Out of all the ways you watch television programs, in what way or ways do you most often do so?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

On TV, Non-Streaming [NET]

89

77

90

95

97

88

89

85

90

On TV – live feed (watching as it is broadcast, whether via cable, satellite or over the air)

56

44

54

66

63

58

54

52

58

On TV – programming recorded on a DVR or other device

32

30

42

31

24

34

30

36

30

On TV – via cable or satellite on-demand service

29

23

26

32

41

26

31

24

32

Streaming [NET]

20

41

14

9

7

22

18

23

18

Streaming on any device (TV, computer, tablet, smartphone) – with advertising

12

27

9

4

3

13

11

13

12

Streaming on any device (TV, computer, tablet, smartphone) – ad free

10

21

6

5

4

11

9

14

8

Not applicable – I do not watch television programs

3

4

4

2

1

3

3

4

2

Note: Multiple responses accepted.

 

TABLE 3

DEVICES OWNED

"Which of the following do you currently own?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A laptop or desktop computer

93

91

94

93

94

91

94

90

94

A television without the ability to access the Internet

60

60

62

60

55

60

59

60

59

A smartphone

47

64

60

34

18

51

43

62

40

TV with Internet [NET]

30

33

34

29

22

34

27

38

27

A set-top box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) or game system capable of accessing the Internet

19

25

23

16

9

21

17

27

16

An Internet-capable television (Smart TV)

17

14

18

20

15

19

15

20

16

A tablet computer

24

26

30

21

19

28

20

31

21

None of the above

2

1

2

2

1

2

1

2

2

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

TABLE 4

ONLINE/STREAMING VIEWERSHIP VS. A YEAR AGO

"How would you describe your online or streaming television program viewership?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I am watching more online or streaming television programming now than I was a year ago

20

32

20

13

8

22

18

24

18

No different

39

44

42

34

33

41

37

44

36

I am watching less online or streaming television programming than I was a year ago

9

13

8

7

4

8

10

10

8

Not applicable – I do not watch any television programming online

32

10

30

46

55

28

36

22

37

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 5

ANTICIPATED ONLINE/STREAMING VIEWERSHIP ONE YEAR FROM NOW

"How much online or streaming television programming do you expect to be watching a year from now, in comparison to right now?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I expect to be watching more online or streaming television programming a year from now

19

27

19

15

7

23

15

27

15

No different

54

56

58

51

46

52

55

52

55

I expect to be watching less online or streaming television programming a year from now

5

9

3

3

4

6

4

5

5

Not applicable – I do not watch any television programming online

22

7

20

30

43

18

26

16

25

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

TABLE 6

FACTORS WHICH WOULD ENCOURAGE INCREASED ONLINE/STREAMING TV PROGRAMMING VIEWERSHIP

"Which of the following would encourage you to watch more online or streaming television programming?"

Base: U.S. adults who are not watching more online or streaming TV programming than a year ago


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Could be encouraged to watch more streaming/online [NET]

59

71

65

56

35

62

56

65

57

More or better free online/streaming options

31

43

34

28

11

36

26

38

28

Availability of programming which I can't currently access in that way

20

27

20

18

11

21

19

19

20

Not having to watch on a computer screen

19

19

24

21

11

19

20

17

21

Availability of a fast enough Internet connection

17

23

21

14

8

19

16

19

17

Ease of access / learning how to access

17

15

19

19

17

18

17

16

18

Better access to the equipment I would need

10

10

15

10

6

13

8

10

10

Not applicable – I have been watching mostly or entirely streaming/online for over a year

3

4

4

1

1

2

3

4

2

Other

4

5

6

2

2

4

3

4

4

None of the above

38

25

31

43

64

35

41

31

42

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


 

TABLE 7

OTHER ACTIVITIES WHILE WATCHING TV

"Which of the following, if any, do you ever do while watching TV?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Doing any other things [NET]

81

91

83

77

66

77

85

86

79

Online [SUB-NET]

65

83

71

55

36

65

65

76

60

Surf the Internet using a computer

51

63

56

44

31

52

51

54

50

Go on a social networking site

35

51

43

25

12

32

39

43

32

Shop online

27

35

33

21

11

24

29

30

25

Surf the Internet using my mobile phone

21

38

28

9

2

22

21

32

16

Surf the Internet on a tablet computer

15

21

19

10

5

18

12

20

12

Read a book, magazine or newspaper

37

32

37

38

44

33

40

35

37

Text

35

59

39

20

7

30

40

48

29

Read a book on an eReader device

11

14

10

8

9

9

12

13

9

Something else

25

25

24

27

17

19

30

22

26

None

17

7

14

22

33

21

13

11

20

Not applicable – I do not watch television

2

2

2

1

1

2

1

2

1

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 10 and 15, 2012 among 2,343 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #62, November 13, 2012

By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contacts:
Corporate Communications 
Harris Interactive 
212-539-9600 
[email protected]  

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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