Ericsson contradicts TV viewing figures

Ericsson last week published highlights of its latest Trend Report on TV and video consumption. While some of the insights are valuable, I’m distracted by some of its findings.
 
One figure that stands out, for example, is the claim that 40% of total TV viewing in the UK is now on-demand. If I’ve misread that, I’m happy to be corrected, but that seems way out of step with received wisdom. Ofcom published recent data from BARB suggesting that time-shifted viewing now accounts for 14% of total TV time, and even Sky’s users (who are able and willing to time-shift using their Sky+ box) spend more than 70% of their time watching linear TV, we are told.
 
Has the Ericsson survey confused penetration of an activity with the time spent doing it? The highlights don’t define the terms used. Yes, many of us now time-shift, but all the evidence from elsewhere suggests it still makes up a small minority of our total viewing.
 
Moreover, while we like to watch content on-demand, most of that involves catching up on scheduled broadcasts. BARB calculates that 82% of UK time-shifted viewing is within seven days of broadcast. The linear schedule is not going anywhere just yet, whatever Ericsson says.
 
Other findings are interesting, even if they chime with previous studies. Fewer than 15% of respondents would consider paying for 3DTV, but more than 30% would pay for movie releases direct to TV. Users value a super-simple interface and the ability to connect wirelessly, but care little for apps on the TV. And only a minority of TV viewers do nothing else at the same time - more than 40% of respondents use social media while watching television, for example.
 
I am looking forward to seeing if IBC in Amsterdam reflects these consumer’s views. Will exhibitors still be plugging unlovely (and apparently unwanted) 3D solutions and clunky on-screen apps? Hopefully they will be responding instead to the increasingly social nature of TV viewing with great new complementary experiences across a range of devices. Watch this space.
 
Nick Thomas is a principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

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