Fewer consumers watch content on TVs, they crave gadgets instead

11 Jan 2012

The percentage of consumers watching broadcast or cable TV in a typical week on televisions fell from 71pc in 2009 to 48pc in 2011, while the number of consumers who intend to buy a TV in the next 12 months fell from 35pc to 32pc in 2011, according to new research from Accenture.

Accenture says fewer consumers intend to buy TVs this year and fewer are regularly watching content on them. Instead, consumers are turning to other consumer electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers to view media.

The news also arrives as providers like Netflix enter the UK and Irish markets with affordable streaming deals that allow consumers to watch their TV on any of 700 different devices, from smartphones and tablets to TVs supported by networked DVD players and consoles.

The survey makes interesting reading at the start of the Consumer Electronics Show this week and at the beginning of a year where everyone in the tech world is anticipating a TV device to emerge from Apple later in the year.

“The battle for consumers’ eyeballs and time is intensifying, viewership continues to disperse, and we are starting to see the impact on the TV as a screen in the home,” said Mitch Cline, global managing director of Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech Group.

“Craving an always-on, always-connected lifestyle, consumers increasingly are using other consumer electronics devices in their daily lives to access the entertainment that only TV once provided. While consumers will no doubt continue to buy TVs, consumers’ preferences are shifting. They are rapidly substituting other screens, such as laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones, to view media content.”

Smartphones and tablets

The research uncovered soaring growth in the use of smartphones and tablets, as consumers increasingly value mobility.

More than half (53pc) of survey respondents own a smartphone, up from 28pc in 2010. Ownership of tablets climbed to 12pc in 2011 from 8pc in 2010. When consumers were asked about plans to purchase consumer electronics devices in 2011 and 2012, the story remained consistent.

The percentage of respondents who plan to purchase a smartphone rose from 24pc to 27pc; for tablets, the percentage jumped from 8pc to 16pc.

These consumer electronics devices are increasingly being used for entertainment purposes. For example, 44pc of tablet owners stream media content, and 43pc download applications at least once per week.

Online services and cloud computing

More than half (56pc) of the survey respondents indicated they have changed their behaviours due to online services and cloud computing.

Nearly one-third (32pc) have stopped, or almost stopped, renting or buying DVDs; one-fourth (25pc) share more personal content with family and friends; and 19pc access their personal content from more devices than before.

Three-quarters (75pc) use an online mailbox, 37pc play online games, and 26pc stream media content. The younger generation (18-34-year-olds) are even heavier uses of online services, with almost half (47pc) playing online games and more than a third (36pc) streaming media content.

Downloading apps

Nearly two-thirds (64pc) of respondents indicated they download apps, usually from consumer electronics device manufacturers and software providers’ application stores.

More than two-thirds (69pc) use information applications (news, weather and sports); 58pc use networking applications (social/professional networking); and more than half (56pc) use entertainment applications (music, single or group games, and videos).

Television pricing

Respondents were asked what would make them more inclined to buy a TV. More than half (55pc) indicated they would purchase a television if the price was within their budget; 42pc indicated a television with high-definition resolution was an important consideration.

Only a quarter (25pc) cited 3D functionality as a desired capability of a new TV.

Likewise, one-quarter (25pc) indicated they would be more predisposed to buying a TV if it offered the ability to connect to the web to access the internet and personal content.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years