You’ve seen those advertisements showing consumers using tablet computers and smartphones to watch videos and television programming, right? Such ads are no longer a vision of the future but an accurate depiction of the present. New survey-based research, the Accenture Video-Over-Internet Consumer Survey 2013, finds that online video viewing has matured to become a mainstream activity for consumers of all ages and in all geographies. Overall, 90 percent of consumers surveyed across Europe, North America and South America currently view video over the Internet.
This is the third year that this survey has been conducted, and the 2013 results indicate that consumers are getting more comfortable using more than one device to access video content. Indeed, their growing tendency to multitask (for example, watching television while interacting with other content or applications on a tablet, smartphone or laptop) has implications for all content providers. The quality of the overall viewing experience is becoming increasingly important, and some frustration exists among consumers as they seek a simpler viewing experience.
An especially notable finding this year is that although there is more fragmentation of the video marketplace—which is creating more competition from emerging players—traditional broadcasters have responded with innovative video offerings. The fact that consumers see traditional TV broadcasters as the most trusted source of video-over-Internet service on the TV screen may mean that, as the old saying has it, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Five insights from the Accenture Video-over-Internet Survey 2013 are particularly noteworthy:
1. Improve the user experience: The right content for the right device
Consumers are watching video content over the Internet more frequently and over more kinds of devices. The PC/laptop is the most popular, with 89 percent of consumers watching video content on these devices. The tablet is on the rise, however, as a means to view all types of video content. In 2013, one-third of consumers reported watching online videos on a tablet, compared with just one-fifth (21 percent) in 2012.
Providers need to be sensitive to the fact that consumers are increasingly looking to view particular types of video content on the devices most appropriate to how that content can be optimally experienced (referred to as the “form factor” of the device). Full-length movies/TV series and live programming are most watched on TVs, while user-generated content and short clips are mostly watched on mobile devices. However, more people are watching full-length movies and TV series on PCs/laptops—47 percent this year, compared with 41 percent in 2012. And tablets showed growth in viewing habits for all types of online video content.
As consumers get more comfortable using more than one device, it is important for broadcasters and content providers to support consumers across all devices. It is no longer enough for broadcasters to offer content that is compelling; that content must also be appropriate to the form factor of specific devices. Only 45 percent of consumers indicate that they are satisfied with the consistency of the user experience they get when they move from one device to another.
2. Meet the needs of the multitasker
Multitasking—simultaneously using other devices while watching content on a TV set—has increased substantially since 2012. For example, consumers’ regular use of tablets while watching TV grew from 11 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2013. Equally important, significant percentages of consumers are using their tablets in a way correlated with what is being watched on TV—for example, checking facts or exploring ideas raised by a video being watched on a television screen.
The increase in multitasking should serve as a kind of warning for content providers and broadcasters, who need to adapt and reinvent the formats they broadcast to hold the attention of consumers today. On the other hand, multitasking behaviors point to new opportunities for broadcasters to increase engagement—and, therefore, preference—by linking apps and related content from one device to another. Multitasking also provides opportunities to develop new social and community functionalities and experiment with new monetization models, such as advertising, direct marketing and secondary rights.
3. Make premium content and subscription services more appealing
This year’s survey finds that despite the difficult economic climate, consumers are still willing to pay for online video services—though, as yet, not much. Most consumers report they will pay the equivalent of less than $10 on a monthly basis, an amount less than in 2012.
While 37 percent of consumers currently pay for access to video content through a regular subscription or TV license fee, just 10 percent of respondents reported paying per view for video on-demand, down slightly from 12 percent in 2012. These results show an important media consumption trend, where a transaction-based model may no longer be the preferred way to pay for entertainment.
An important imperative is to make premium content more compelling. As online consumption is maturing, and as consumers become more sophisticated, they want to pay less for content overall—but they may pay more for getting specifically what they want, when they want it. If they do not have their needs met, they may choose to watch video content for free over the Internet.
4. Overcome consumers’ frustrations
When it comes to watching Internet video content on their TVs, consumers are searching for simplicity but are not yet finding it. Although from a technical perspective, connected TV remains the ideal method for accessing online video on TV, consumer interest slipped from 36 percent in 2012 to 31 percent in 2013, in part because of concerns over how to install the connected TV technology.
Consistent with the 2012 survey findings, consumers are concerned about a number of other issues. They are asking for a better online video experience in terms of both quality of picture and download times, something that broadcasters and online video providers must take into account to attract and retain customers. Consumers also raise concerns about advertising during a program, something that companies must account for as they evolve their business models.
5. Build trust—something that broadcasters are learning quickly
Consumers this year across all countries surveyed reported that traditional TV broadcasters are the most trusted source for video-over-Internet service on the TV screen, displacing telecom/Internet service provider/broadband companies that had, in aggregate, ranked highest in 2012. In addition, although international online video services such as Netflix and YouTube still dominate the market, use of local or national online video services is gradually increasing.
The growing use of local online video services, coupled with the growth in broadcaster trust, signal that broadcasters’ competitive strategies and investments appear to be working. In the short term, at least, broadcasters have “stemmed the bleeding” against international competition and new market entrants. However, a clear consumer value proposition and relentless pursuit of innovation remain imperative to success.