Exactly how much over-the-top (OTT) and online video are cutting into pay-TV revenues has been a topic for some time but now research from Strategy Analytics has shown that the new media have changed how people watch TV.
According to the research, traditional TV viewers remain the largest segment in the TV viewing universe but now only account for a third (33%) of people online who watch TV.
The analyst dubs such viewers couch potatoes, one of six sub-groups it has identified in the report which reveals the main ways people watch TV today by the degree to which connected devices impact viewing and TV interaction.
Couch potatoes, very focused on TV when watching it, typically never phone or text people about what they're watching and hardly ever use social media. None of this group uses Twitter trending topics or hashtags on a weekly basis to follow a show they're watching. In general the survey found that fewer than one in five (18%) people online follow the show they're watching on TV via Twitter.
The next biggest group was 'OTTers' accounting for just over a quarter. This segment is less interested in TV, being the most likely to go 24 hours without watching it. They prefer to watch shows via online or "over-the-top" services. Strategy Analytics found that 95% of OTTers watch a TV show they missed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
The next key grouping was 'couch chatterers' taking up 12% of TV viewers. Similar in habits to couch potatoes they were found to be 2.5 times more likely than the average person online (90% vs. 37%) to phone or text others about what they're watching on TV. None of this group use Twitter to follow a show they're watching but people in the group were much more likely to be using another device (80%) when watching TV than the average viewer (65%).
The remaining part of the survey, 30%, was made up of multiscreen users, themselves sub-divided into three categories: manic, moderate and indifferent.
Commenting on the survey findings, Strategy Analytics principal analyst David Mercer said: "The traditional way broadcasters and advertisers have discussed TV audiences for 70 years – by age and gender – is becoming increasingly irrelevant and outdated. People within a traditional group, say 18-34 year old men, can watch TV in completely different ways so new behaviours are as important as demographics when it comes to planning for all elements within the TV industry – be it content, scheduling and advertising."
However, Mercer warned broadcasters and advertisers that they needed to learn the intricacies about the relationship between TV and new devices. "There's a lot of hype about how Twitter is changing TV viewing but, in reality, only two types of people are remotely engaged with 'Twitter + TV'. Consequently, strategies heavily focused on this would be a big waste as it's irrelevant to over 80% of TV viewers," he added.