Home Even As Old Media Push Back, TV Viewers Still Flock to the Web

Even As Old Media Push Back, TV Viewers Still Flock to the Web

More people are turning to the Internet to watch television shows rather than tuning into the original broadcast, according to a study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab. Forty-four percent of respondents said they stream TV shows online more than once per week.

While this is by no means a new development, the trend is continuing unabated as more consumers depend on Web-based, on-demand streaming as their primary means of viewing TV content and broadcast’s popularity drops ever-so-slowly.

However eager consumers may be to watch TV online, networks and content providers have lately been having second thoughts about the whole thing. Last month, Fox implemented an eight-day waiting period for viewers to endure before they’ll be able to stream Fox’s programming online for free. Now ABC is considering a similar move.

Tensions between traditional content providers and the Internet companies that seek to alter the way that content is distributed appear to be heightening. Just yesterday, Starz Entertainment announced it wouldn’t renew its licensing deal with Netflix, reportedly over the latter’s refusal to raise its subscription rates even more than it already has.

It’s worth noting that even as users flock to the Internet for their TV needs, broadcast still commands the vast majority of viewers’ attention. According to Ericsson’s survey, scheduled brodcast TV was the preferred viewing method for 88% of consumers surveryed, a four-point drop from last year.

TV Gets More Social

However they’re getting it, people are increasingly supplementing the TV-watching experience with social media. Forty percent of viewers said they use Facebook, Twitter or some other social networking tool to discuss TV shows as they watch.

“This communication adds another dimension to the TV experience, as consumers found an annoying reality show funnier when they were able to comment on social media about ‘terrible’ singers, ‘ugly’ clothing or when your favorite team scores a goal,” said Anders Erlandsson, Senior Advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab.

The growth of both social networking and mobile computing (including tablets) have contributed to a rise in the use of social media to augment TV consumption, especially among younger generations, who have grown up connected and are accustomed to using the Internet for social communication around the clock.

The social Web’s impact on television can be seen in the rise of “second screen” social TV apps and in the development of Internet-connected TV sets, one of which is rumored to be coming from Apple sometime next year.

Even as the Internet upends traditional media business models, it’s possible that the real-time, social Web may help preserve the value of the original broadcast, since those conversations are best had when a given TV show first airs. It’s harder to have a Twitter chat with friends about the latest episode of “Glee” when you’re watching in on Hulu eight days later.

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