Study: TV is taking a back seat to web

Personal time that consumers spend on the Internet is rivaling their TV time, with user-generated content and networking sites among the most popular destinations for entertainment seekers, according to a new survey issued Wednesday.

Additionally, people seem more open to mobile content and are looking for more traditional entertainment offerings on their mobile devices than previously thought.

These are among the findings of a new IBM survey of consumer behavior that forms part of a larger study on the future of advertising, set to be released in the fall.

In the latest sign of television's decline as the primary media device, 19% of respondents said they spend six hours or more each day on personal Internet usage. That compares with 8% who said so about the TV. One to four hours of TV usage was reported by 66%, compared with 60% for the Web.

The number of TV viewers using digital video recorders continues to expand, with 24% of U.S. respondents saying they have a DVR and watch 50% or more of TV programming in replay mode, IBM found. Of those viewers, 33% said they are watching more TV since owning a DVR, in line with other recent studies.

Watching video content on the Web is a popular activity these days. An average of 67% of consumers surveyed by IBM globally said they have watched or want to watch online video.

For video content online, the most popular destinations are user content-generated sites like YouTube, with 39% of respondents saying that's where they go most frequently. TV network sites (33%), search engines (32%) and social-networking sites (28%) are the next most-popular locations for Web video offers, according to the IBM study.

As far as mobile video is concerned, an average of 35% surveyed globally by IBM said they have or want to watch mobile video. Just 7% report having a video-content subscription for their mobile phones. Nearly a third of U.K. users said their mobile consumption ate in their TV viewing time, according to IBM.

Bill Battino, on of the study's authors, said his team was surprised that shortform content tailored to the mobile device was less popular than they had expected. About half of users said they prefer to access traditional video offers like TV shows on their mobile.

Could this lead consumers to one day watch more movies in mobile form as well? "We think that will be a natural progression from watching TV shows currently," Battino said, adding that the under-20 age demographic especially loves portability of content. "They may start a film at home and then watch it on a laptop or cell on the go," he said. "And they like to watch in discreet time segments," meaning they might watch a movie in several 20-minute sessions.

The lesson of the IBM survey for studios is to continue making content available on various platforms. However, "don't expect consumers to spend incrementally on different devices," he warned. "People want to pay for content once and then move it" to whatever device they like.

Among key digital age gadgets and services, portable music offers are among the most popular, with 23% saying they are using them, according to the IBM survey. Also, 11% reported using a PC-based music service, and 18% reported an online newspaper subscription.

The online survey was conducted between mid-April and mid-June by the IBM Institute for Business Value and generated 885 responses in the U.S., 559 in the U.K., 378 in Japan, 338 in Germany and 263 in Australia.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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