Internet TV in the Mainstream
With Internet TV rising in popularity, it is no surprise to find that for many, the PC has become the second TV in many homes, according to new research by Internet video specialist Simply and media boutique Work Research.
In a March report, ABI Research forecasted that there will be more than 90 million IPTV subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2013, up from 13.5 million last year.
The research was conducted using a series of face-to-face interviews and respondents were asked to keep a diary of their online viewing habits. Predictably a number of typologies emerged from the research: Professional men in their 30s who are co-habiting; mums with children at home and a ‘digital generation’ of men and women under the age of 25. Notably, none were unusually technology-savvy ‘geeks’ nor were they fans of highly niche programming. Many expressed an interest in connecting the PC to their TV, though none had actually done this yet. This suggests that the technology is still too complicated for Internet TV to replace mainstream TV and become the main source of entertainment in the household.
The research also identified three distinct categories of online content with each meeting different needs for viewers.
Snippets are short, quick to watch (between five seconds and five minutes) and usually viewed while taking on other activities. The content is usually amateur and has a focus on sharing content whether it is through emails, on the site itself, or on mobiles. YouTube would be a prime example of snippet content.
Boutique is about task-based viewing where content is instructional or helps with information gathering around keen interests. Lasting between two to five minutes the content is usually of a professional standard but independently made. Boutique content is usually watched in private and is consumed at weekends or evenings at home - a difference with the anytime nature of snippets.
Catch-up content is broadcast programme in length and tends to be viewed in a more relaxed mode. This activity reflects normal TV behaviour and is really where the computer takes on the role of the second TV. Catch-up TV is often viewed late at night when there is nothing else on or while nursing a Sunday morning hangover.
One of the key debates in the Internet space is how companies can monetise content. This is more prevalent in the online TV environment where audiences are increasingly fragmented and it is easier to merely skip brand messages.
The research found that viewers were willing to accept advertising in exchange for free content. In particular, advertising accompanying catch-up TV programmes were generally accepted due to their familiarity and professional content. However, with snippets, many questioned the appropriateness of having advertising around amateur content online.
This is related to the ‘viewing mode’ of the user. Snippets are usually consumed as a quick fix and any advertising preceding this would make the viewers impatient. However, with the other two forms of content, the viewer has generally set aside time and are less impatient. They also expect that the content will be of higher quality and relevance. Therefore there is less hostility to the advertising message. Banners and pop-ups were generally perceived negatively.
"The middle class study has been reborn as a US style ‘den’ where viewers displaced by a partner or child are escaping to indulge their personal interests. Instead of watching soaps under sufferance they are seeking out what they really want to watch online." said Matthew Halfin who led the study for co-author Simply.The full research findings including extracts from the interviews and video diaries are available at www.ignoreatyourperil.com