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Accenture: PC preferred to TV for shows. Can that be right?

connected device video usage

Accenture says just 25% of UK and US Internet users prefer the TV set to watch TV shows. It also says more people prefer the PC to the TV, and that people prefer to watch short video on their smartphone. Are these three data points true?

Accenture published new data last week from a survey of 26,000 people in 26 countries around the world. The data provided 3 startling statistics on media consumption that seem to fly in the face of much of the other data in the market.

Statistic 1: Only 23% say they prefer to watch TV on a television set

TV viewing preference plummetsAccenture says that there has been a 55% drop in the last year in consumers who prefer to watch TV shows on TV sets. The company says 52% said they preferred the TV set in 2016 and that just 23% said this in 2017. The company said the in the UK and US 25% said they preferred the TV set, and in India just 10% said this.*

Almost all the behavioral data shows quite the contrary. For example, last week Adobe provided new US data that shows a huge increase in TV show authenticated viewing through the connected television. TV connected device (TVCD) video starts increased to 32%, up from 20% in Q4 2014.

Recent data from Roku corroborates the continued dominance of the TV in the viewing of TV content. Company usage data suggests that the average active user watches 1 hour and 45 minutes per day on the television through the streaming media player.

Almost everywhere, traditional TV viewing still dwarfs viewing through connected devices. For example, in the US people watch 4 hours and 25 minutes of TV a day. In the UK people watch regular TV 3 hours and 47 minutes a day. Even in India people watch TV for 3 hours and 16 minutes a day.

Despite what people say in the Accenture survey, their actions speak far louder and confirm the television remains the preferred place to watch TV shows.

Statistic 2: 42% prefer to watch TV shows on their PC or laptop

PC viewing preference risesAccenture says that computers have overtaken TV sets as the preferred devices for watching TV shows. The company says 32% preferred the PC in 2016, and that 42% prefer it now.

The PC has, for a long time, dominated online viewing. However, there is lots of data supporting the idea that its usage for video is declining, not increasing as Accenture says.

For example, in the recent Adobe Digital Insights Report, the company reports that, for TV Everywhere authenticated viewing, TV connected video starts are higher than PC browser accesses by 10%. What’s more video starts are falling through the browser, not increasing.

BBC iPlayer data shows the same thing. The computer’s share of TV program requests has fallen from 26% in February 2015 to 16% in February 2017.

In the US, at least, Nielsen data suggests those that do watch video through their PC are watching more. The amount of the population that watches video on the PC has declined from 37% in Q2 2014 to 31% in Q2 2016. However, the amount those still using the device to watch consume has increased, from 218 minutes per week to 352 minutes. That said, all other connected devices increased video reach and the number of minutes spent watching on each screen.

Statistic 3: 41% prefer their smartphone to watch video clips

Smartphone preference for shortsAccenture says the smartphone has nearly doubled in preference for watching video clips. 23% preferred it in 2014, and 41% said they preferred it in 2017.

This statistic seems much more in line with much of the industry data. For example, Matthew Corbin, Global Product Marketing at Facebook, says Facebook delivers 8B daily video views, and that users are mostly using their mobiles to view it. YouTube claims that 70% of all traffic now comes from mobile devices.

That said, smartphone viewing behavior, whether it is short or long form video, still seems to conform to TV norms. Google says that YouTube reaches more adults 18 or older during prime time than any cable network. It also says that 75% of adults watch YouTube at home on their mobile device, and that viewing takes place primarily during prime time.

Why it matters

What people say and do are often very different things.

For example, Accenture reports that more people say they prefer the PC to the TV for viewing TV shows.

Usage data shows that people’s viewing time is primarily on TV.

*Survey participants were asked “Which types of device (s) do you prefer to use when accessing different types of content?” The options included ‘laptop and desktop personal computers,’ ‘smartphones,’ ‘tablets,’ ‘TV screens,’ ‘game consoles,’ ‘other’ and ‘none.’

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