Majority of Americans streaming TV, new survey shows

No longer is live television the dominant mode for watching TV shows, as a new survey found that a majority of Americans viewed digitally streaming content on an internet-enabled device.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 by YuMe

No longer is live television the dominant mode for watching TV shows, as a new survey from Harris Interactive found that 53 percent of all Americans viewed digitally streaming content on an internet-enabled device.

In particular, the survey found streaming television to be particularly popular with people between 18 and 35, and with families with children. Of the Millennials polled, 41 percent said they most often watched TV content through streaming, in comparison to the 44 percent who said they prefer live television.

Additionally, Americans with children in the house reported watching more streaming content than did those without kids. While about 49 percent of adults living without kids watched streaming content, compared to 60 percent of U.S. households.

U.S. residents are watching more streaming content now than ever before, making it likely that more TV shows will be streamed in coming years. The Harris Interactive report found that 20 percent of the more than 2,300 people polled said they watched more streaming videos this year than in the past, and 19 percent of respondents said they planned to watch more on-demand content over the next 12 months.

Popular devices for TV streaming
The poll found that not only are Americans watching more TV shows on their own schedule, but they are turning to a wide variety of devices for their content consumption. However, when it comes to the preferred option, most of those polled indicated that they prefer television sets.

In what should come as good news for video advertisers targeting connected television, 30 percent of the poll's respondents said they can watch streaming content on their TV set. In addition, 19 percent said they now own a set-top streaming device and 17 percent indicated that they own a television with built-in internet connectivity.

However, the television set has competition in terms of capturing the attention of viewers, as the study showed that 81 percent of Americans engage in other tasks while watching television. In particular, 65 percent of those polled said they browse the internet while viewing TV shows.

"This adds challenges to digital media planners and agencies needing to capture and engage audiences," Rhona Wulf, vice president of Harris Interactive Media Practice, said in a statement. She added that "those looking to speak to these markets are under particular pressure to establish multi-platform approaches."

Best ways for brands to reach consumers
While streaming video content presents challenges to video advertisers accustomed to the traditional model of television advertising, Harris Interactive's findings do indicate a number of bright spots for brands to consider. Advertisers should instead think about a multi-screen ad campaign that offers more targeted spots to consumers, allowing them to watch online video ads on their time.

"TV advertising has grown increasingly complex in recent years; gone are the days of simply choosing which programs to support and in which markets," Harris Interactive said in a November release. "Now advertisers must also consider how viewers will be watching, on what device, and – particularly for time-sensitive advertising – when."

An especially bright spot for video advertisers is that the survey's findings indicate the growth potential of connected TV. Consumers indicated that they want the ability to view TV shows on their own schedule, but that larger TV sets were preferable to the smaller screens of laptops or smartphones. Close to 20 percent of the survey's respondents said they would watch more streaming TV content if they did not have to turn to a computer screen for watching shows whenever desired.