Dawn of a new age in television watching habits

2014. 06. 17.

The development of the Internet and the proliferation of smart devices open a new era of television, too, starting a revolution and changing our perception of watching TV. Hungarians have also started to consume content on several screens simultaneously, and high-definition content is becoming available to more and more people. The topic of eNET – Telekom’s latest “Report on the Internet Economy” is TV watching habits.

How we watch TV

In April 2014, eNET surveyed a group of regular Internet users aged 18+. The results indicate that four fifths (79%) of adult net users generally pursue various other parallel activities while watching TV, i.e. their attention is divided (and not focused on the television alone).

Most (27%) of the respondents indicated web surfing on their laptop computers as the main parallel activity performed while watching TV; this was followed by web surfing on desktop computers (24%). Household chores such as ironing, cooking or cleaning were often mentioned as well. (Many more women than men named these activities.) Net surfing on smartphones and tablets are also among the parallel activities, but as these devices are less widely spread, fewer interviewees referred to them (16% and 6%, respectively). The conclusion is that television already fights with other screens for the attention of Internet users in Hungary.

Is the tablet the new TV?

Multiscreen TV watching is a new trend; in addition to and, in some cases, instead of conventional television, content is now consumed on other devices such as tablets, computers or smartphones. The results of eNET’s research conducted in April 2014 show that one in five adult Internet users has a tablet computer, and 17% use their tablets to watch streamed TV programs via the web or a dedicated application. A somewhat higher percentage, 23%, watch previously aired TV programs on their tablets. Watching videos is the main motion picture consumption method as 71% of tablet owners who regularly surf the Internet claim to engage in that activity.

In eNET’s research conducted in April 2014, 54% of adult regular internet users claimed to have a smartphone. They are more moderate video watchers than tablet owners, probably because of the limitation imposed by the screen size. About 11% of adult Internet users owning smartphone watch streamed TV programs in an application or through the web; and more people (16%) watch previously broadcast programs. As in the case of tablet computers, watching videos is the most popular activity, with a 65% share.

Thus multiscreen television has started to conquer Hungary’s net surfers and TV watchers. As smart devices spread, this trend is likely to pick up. More than two thirds of those who have smartphones or tablets are already regular consumers of video content on their devices, which may ultimately replace conventional televisions.

High picture quality?

For several decades, TV set manufacturers, broadcasting companies and channel operators have been striving for a gradual but steady improvement in picture quality. In terms of importance, HD quality is in the midfield of the broadcasting features demanded by viewers, but 62% of adults who regularly use the Internet consider high-definition channels rather important. However, this is not the main determinant of most people’s purchasing decisions or subscription needs; 69% of the respondents would not buy a new TV set just for HD quality, and 64% would not change their subscriptions for that feature.

Almost half (49%) of regular Internet users watch HD quality content on TV, but 39% do not do that. And 12% could not answer this question. Most (85%) of those who do watch HD TV do not consider TV screen resolution as a decisive factor when choosing the programs to watch.

TV on demand

eNET also examined how widely used the video-on-demand (VoD) service was. While the majority (64%) claimed not to have access to that service, the function is already available in every fifth subscription package. More than half (55%) of those who do have access to the service actually use it, although one third does so no more than once a month.

As stated above, watching video content on smart devices such as tablets and smartphones is becoming increasingly popular; currently this is the most frequent form of motion picture consumption. eNET has examined which of the several video streaming web sites are used in Hungary, and how often. YouTube clearly takes the lead: 97% of regular Internet users claim to visit that site more or less frequently. Indavideo (a Hungarian competitor) is second with 49%, followed by Videa, which was mentioned by 40% of the interviewees. YouTube easily leads in terms of the frequency of visits as every fourth respondent watches videos there daily, and 57% do that several times a week. In the case of Indavideo, these ratios are only 1% and 7%, respectively.

No shortage of TV sets

eNET’s research indicates that TV set penetration in Hungary is quite high. Only 2% of the interviewees said that they did not have a TV at home, and 40% in fact have two sets at home. Smart TVs, which appeared recently, are naturally less widely spread than conventional sets: only about 20% of the interviewees had such a device at home. But the ratio will probably rise because one in four TV owners indicated an intention to buy a smart set in the near future. The recent soccer world cup will be followed by 45%, and within this group, 10% plan to buy a new TV specifically because of the world cup.

Thanks to their additional functions, smart TVs offer additional features and provide a user experience superior to conventional TV sets. eNET’s research shows that only one person in four (23%) uses a smart TV just to watch TV programs; the largest group (45%) watch their own content (images, videos etc.) kept on other devices. A smaller group (38%) watch videos, while 36% use their smart sets to browse the net. Even though not all owners take advantage of the smart features, to an increasing number of people, watching TV now goes beyond the current TV program.

Upcoming buzzwords: multiscreen content consumption, smart TV, HD, video on-demand

Smart devices have ushered in a new era, and how people watch TV is about to change. Simultaneous, multiscreen audio-visual content consumption (on tablets, smart phones and TV sets) has already started to spread in Hungary, too. In the next few years, “old” devices will be gradually replaced with smart TVs that offer higher image quality and more varied entertainment options. At the same time, high definition TV programs will become available to more and more people. As to the video-on-demand service, the pricing and specific contents of the packages offered are of key importance because users are price-sensitive. Finally, watching videos is already a general practice and a real alternative to conventional television.

eNET – Telekom