Released from home: watching TV in the age of smart devices

2015. 03. 27.

Content available online and smart devices herald the end of golden age of traditional television as we know it. Now we can not only watch TV programs in real time but also record them for later viewing; also, we can watch movies online and visit video sharing sites. In fact, not even a TV set is necessary to watch television programs any more: 80% of adult Hungarian Internet users watch movies and videos on at least one other device. Thanks to mobile Internet access, smartphones and tablets have released TV programs from homes as they can be viewed anywhere and anytime. The latest “Report on the Internet Economy” by eNET- Telekom focuses on changes in how Hungarians watch TV. 

Smart TVs: owned and used by more and more people

According to eNET’s research on the usage of smart devices, conducted between late December 2014 and early January 2015, 17% of adult Hungarian Internet users have smart TVs. This is a low ratio compared to conventional televisions, but it should increase considerably in future because 12% of the respondents plan to buy such a device in the next one-year period.

Interactive television services and smart TV’s similar functions offer several additional features compared to conventional TV watching to improve user experience. Already more than two thirds of Internet users who have smart TVs actually use those additional functions, primarily watching own media content from a connected device (84%), watching videos (83%), and browsing the Net (73%). Two thirds of the respondents run applications on their smart TVs at least occasionally.

A remote control used to serve channel switching and avoiding commercial breaks. But now as smart TVs and interactive television services proliferate, the remote has become a tool for active choices, i.e. deciding about the content to be consumed at the viewer’s discretion.

Fight of screens

Besides conventional television, motion picture content consumption on other screens is gaining ground. Most adult Hungarian Internet users already have the devices necessary for that: 66% have laptops, 62% own smartphones, 60% use desktop computers, and 34% have tablet computers.

Watching online videos is the main animated content that people watch on all of the above device types. Three quarters of laptop and desktop owners, and more than two thirds of tablet and smartphone owners, use their devices to watch videos at least occasionally. TV streaming and recording for later viewing are not yet as common; even amongst laptop users, where these activities are the most frequent, their adoption is less than 20% and 40%, respectively.

So now the question is not only about the content but also about the screen used to view it. TV sets remain dominant for many, but their exclusiveness is waning as 80% of adult Internet users use at least one other device (besides or instead of a TV) to view video content. Thus television must fight with other screens for viewers’ attention. Thanks to their mobility and easy handling, tablet computers and smartphones are increasingly used to consume all types of content because they allow for that anywhere and anytime, even replacing conventional televisions. The consumption method has changed as well: these devices are mostly used alone, while a conventional TV is often viewed with others.

Movie sources

The latest survey by eNET indicates that video streaming and sharing sites constitute the main challenge to conventional television programs: as much as 42% of adult Internet users obtain movies from those sites. And 39% use file sharing pages (torrent) regularly. Almost one fifth of the respondents record TV programs, and more than 10% borrow movies online.

Amongst video sharing sites, YouTube remains the absolute winner, with 95% of people visiting it more or less frequently. This ratio is only 54% and 45% for Indavideo and Videa, respectively. YouTube dominates in terms of the frequency of visits, too: more than one quarter of the interviewees visit it daily, and one third several times a week.

The increased accessibility of online content provides an opportunity but also a need for actively defining the content type and the consumption method. These opportunities are now mostly used by younger generations, but older people have also started to discover them, and this process will be necessarily fortified by the dynamic spreading of smart devices.

Watching TV anywhere and anytime

The past few years have brought about a change in video content consumption: content has become available from several sources other than television broadcasts, and there are several devices to watch motion pictures on. We are no longer bound to the living room when it comes to watching TV or motion pictures: television has been released from people’s homes by smartphones and tablet computers. These devices allow us to watch TV anywhere and anytime we want. These innovations have reshaped people’s needs: conscious consumers have emerged who decide themselves what content they consume, when and how.

eNET – Telekom