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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 12, 2011

Over-the-Top Video Seen as a DVR, Accenture Survey Shows

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

In an environment where television viewing continues to fragment, users seem to using much of their non-TV viewing, especially over-the-top as a substitute for digital video recorders. That is to say, they see online video as a "catch up" service that allows them to watch a program they have missed when it was shown on some linear TV service, according to a new Accenture (News - Alert) survey.

When it comes to choosing their favorite Internet broadband features, the largest number of respondents (40 percent) said "catch-up TV," which enables them to watch content that they may have missed, provided the greatest value. Only 14 percent of respondents said the top feature was Web surfing on their televisions and only 11 percent desire interactive and social networking functionality on a TV. 

Those findings might surprise some, who have suggested that large numbers of consumers want advanced new interactive features on TVs. The survey actually indicates what people want is the ability to watch programs on their own schedule, which arguably has been a high driver of end user value for decades, with VCRs being an early indicator. 

The Accenture survey suggests that, by whatever means, viewers want to "watch what they want, when they want it," a trend that has been clear for decades. The survey suggests high demand for the ability to watch content consumers may have missed, recorded up to a week or so in the past. 

What consumers suggest they want actually sounds very much like Cablevision's "network DVR" service. What consumers might be indicating is that they aren't so excited by "one more box" in the home, or perhaps even DVR functions in a single appliance, so much as the additional fees the DVR functionality represents. 

One reason why a network solution might intuitively appeal is that people spend so much time watching TV on various devices, and are not tethered to the main viewing screen. About 92 percent of respondents watch television on standard TVs. But 75 percent of respondents use a desktop computer, 72 percent use a laptop and 63 percent use mobile devices to access content. 

The attraction of over-the-top TV might be more the perceived ability to watch a time-shifted program on any of those devices, not just on the home TV.

And viewing on non-traditional devices is growing. In the past year, viewing increased on laptops (35 percent), desktops (28 percent) and Internet-enabled TVs (26 percent). These trends were seen across all age groups, Accenture said.  Growth percentages for most devices were nearly identical for the 25-to-34 year old and 18-to-24 year old age groups, said Accenture.

The myriad of content delivery choices available in the digital world has also changed the nature of the entire viewing experience, including traditional TV watching, Accenture said. 

There is no longer a single delivery channel or device that receives the uninterrupted attention of viewers. Of those surveyed, 81 percent said they multi-task with other devices while watching TV. Nearly half (48 percent) use a laptop while watching, 41 percent use a mobile device and 28 percent use a desktop computer.

The survey results point to the fact that consumers are now looking to experience the same kinds of freedom, unlimited choices and compelling user experience with their video and TV viewing that they have grown accustomed to on their computers. However, they do not necessarily want to surf the Web and see relatively little value in using the TV as a device for widgets.

Read more here.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee