Is the End in Sight for the Couch Potato?

We attended the Digital Television Group (DTG) Summit in London in mid-May, which this year was themed around the topic of ‘tomorrow’s consumer’. Charles Dawes – senior director of international marketing for discovery firm Rovi – presented the results of an international survey that the firm had run in its seven largest markets. The results were interesting – and surprising.

Last year, cord-cutting was a big fear for the industry, but its effect has not been as wide-spread as had been suggested. Only about 3% of UltraHD pay-TV and OTT subscribers have cut the cord worldwide. In terms of all subscribers, the figure stands at 7% in the USA and 5% in the UK. There is even an uptick in video subscribers among TV operators right now, with Comcast enjoying its highest video quarter in the last nine years (US Pay-TV Shows Small Gains – subscription required).

However, 57% of people have thought about cord-cutting, with 19% giving it “a lot of thought.” There is some variation across regions, with the highest result in Germany (24%) and the USA (22%), with the UK and Japan at 15% and 6%, respectively. Why is this?

People are “frustrated” with linear TV and being unable to get the content that they want. People spend, on average, 19 minutes a day looking for something to watch (again, there was regional variation: the figure was 11 minutes in Japan). 33% of Rovi’s respondents said that they frequently find nothing to watch, which – as Dawes pointed out – is “not a great indicator” for the TV industry. 7% admit to giving up “every time”. Millenials do this more than any other group.

The key is better search and recommendation (S&R and Rovi’s specialisation, of course – TA). The survey showed that 67% of people would be likely to extend contracts, upgrade services or sign up with a new provider offering better S&R. That figure was much higher (above 90%!) in China and India. The takeaway is that the current experience requires too many clicks to reach content.

Voice search is a worthwhile investment. 54% of people would “definitely” or “probably” pay an extra $1.99 per month for this feature, and 47% said that they would use it frequently.

A few other statistics: people spend, on average, over four hours each day watching content (highest in the USA with seven hours or more, trending down in the UK (five hours) and China and Japan (three hours)). 45% said that content affects their mood, and 52% admitted to planning their day around their favourite entertainment content. 19% of people do this every day.

Goodbye, Couch Potato

DTG Summit DD 3Rovi’s survey showed that people are more and more frequently streaming content on-the-go. While 80% stream at home, 60% stream in cars (hopefully as passengers!) or public transport. In Japan and India, people stream while waiting in line. However, streaming like this means less time to watch, and so S&R is again important.

There was a portion of respondents who said that they didn’t use recommendations at all. About 25% of this group said that recommendations were “irrelevant” – the recommendations were bad. Rovi has learned to show people why content is being recommended: i.e., “Because you watched X, we think you’d like Y.” However, some people feel that recommendations are too focused on what they have already watched!

– Tom Allen