Americans Taking Advantage of Ability to Watch TV on Their Own Schedules

New York, N.Y. – April 8, 2013 – Video on demand. DVR’s. Streaming content. Entire seasons of television shows collected in DVD box sets. Americans’ TV viewing habits were once at the mercy of network schedules, but now there are more ways than ever to watch shows on one’s own schedule – and Americans are largely taking advantage of these options.

Nearly eight in ten Americans (78%) have ever utilized the varied technologies that enable us to watch TV shows on our own schedules, with the top methods including on demand services (41% total, 34% cable, 9% satellite); TiVo, DVR’s or other recording devices (37%), Netflix streaming services (30%), purchasing, renting or borrowing episodes or seasons on DVD (29%) and Hulu or Hulu Plus (22%). And of those who do so, over six in ten (62%) confirm that they ever watch multiple episodes of a single TV show at a time, sometimes called binge viewing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,496 adults surveyed online between February 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

Not surprisingly, age plays a major role in having taken advantage of such own schedule viewing opportunities, with Americans 18-39 (89% ages 18-29, 90% ages 30-39) significantly more likely to have done so than those ages 40-54 (78%) – who are in turn more likely to have done so than the 55+ set (67%).

Perhaps more notably, Americans with children under 18 in the household are more likely than those without to have done so (84% with, 76% without), with the difference driven largely by Netflix streaming content (40% with, 27% without) and Amazon online and streaming content (15% with, 9% without).

Attention, please!

Among those who ever watch TV shows on their own schedule, over four in ten (43%) confirm having certain shows they make a priority to watch before anything else, as soon as they are available.

  • Having such priorities or preferences is again more common among those under 40 (57% ages 18-29, 59% ages 30-39, 37% ages 40-54, 29% ages 55+) and among those with children under 18 in the household (49% with, 41% without).

For those with viewing priorities, the top factor in what they prioritize isn’t a complicated one – it’s simply those seen as My favorite / most enjoyable (81%). Other notable, if less dominant, factors include I can’t wait to find out what happens next (53%) and It depends on how much time I have to watch (42%), followed by I don’t want to get behind and risk plot points being spoiled (37%) and It depends on my mood (34%).

  • Women are more likely to be motivated by a desire to find out what happens next (60% women, 46% men), while for men the decision is more dependent on their mood (40% men, 29% women).

Fewer than two in ten (18%) identified a desire to discuss the show with friends, family and/or coworkers as a factor influencing their viewing priorities.

Watch around the clock

Among those watching TV shows on their own schedules, over six in ten (62%) ever binge view. Both new and old shows contribute to this, with half (50%) bingeing on older shows or past seasons of current shows and four in ten (40%) binging on current seasons of shows.

  • 18-39 year olds (78% ages 18-29, 73% ages 30-39) are more likely than those 40 and older (58% 40-54, 48% ages 55+) to binge view, with 40-54 year olds also more likely to do so than the 55+ set.
  • Those with children under 18 in the household are more likely than those without to binge view current seasons of shows (48% with, 37% without).

The choices between which shows to binge view is driven most by the type of show, with the majority of binge viewers (56%) saying this influences their likelihood to binge view a particular program. Other strong factors are a desire to catch up to the live broadcast (44%) and the genre of the show (43%). Few (13%) indicate that their choices are driven by the social aspect, such as watching marathons with friends and participating in watercooler conversations.

Nearly three-fourths of binge viewers report television (73%) as the device they most often find themselves binge viewing on, followed distantly by computers (22%). However, a different story emerges among 18-29 year olds, among whom televisions (50%) and computers (42%) are in much closer contention.

Among those who ever binge view, nearly three in ten (28%) indicate that they are doing so more now than a year ago; just over half (52%) are doing so the same amount as a year ago, and two in ten (20%) are doing so less.

Looking forward, the binge viewing trend shows signs of leveling off; only one in ten Americans (9%) indicate that they expect to be binge viewing more a year from now, and two-thirds (67%) expect to be doing so the same amount at that time as they are now. One-fourth (24%) expect to be doing so less in a year.

So What?

Self-scheduled and binge television viewing trends suggest implications for the television industry at large, potentially impacting both advertisers and content producers.

For advertisers, the clearest impact is that some of these viewers will be taking in contact on platforms beyond their reach, such as Netflix and Amazon’s VOD services.

Content producers, meanwhile, have both positive and negative implications to explore. On the upside, the ability to quickly catch up on past seasons of existing shows, particularly ones with complex storylines, could give more viewers the opportunity to jump into new episodes without confusion. On the downside, viewers watching when they choose, not when it airs, can play havoc with ratings.

Ultimately, TV programming needs to turn a profit in order to justify its production. Looking ahead, the TV and advertising industries will need to find increasing ways to embrace the binge and make the when-I-want it trend work for them.


TABLE 1

WAYS HAVE EVER WATCHED TELEVISION PROGRAMS ON YOUR OWN SCHEDULE

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

There are an increasing number of ways to watch television programs on your own schedule available today. Which of the following have you ever utilized to watch television shows? Please select all that apply.

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Watch TV On own schedule in any way (NET)

78

89

90

78

67

81

76

84

76

On Demand (NET)

41

47

45

41

35

42

40

45

39

On Demand service through a cable TV provider

34

40

38

33

29

34

33

37

33

On Demand service through a satellite TV provider

9

12

9

10

7

9

9

11

8

Hulu / Hulu Plus / Netflix Streaming (NET)

40

71

60

33

19

41

39

49

36

Netflix streaming content (watch instantly)

30

60

47

24

12

29

31

40

27

Hulu or Hulu Plus

22

44

30

17

11

23

21

24

22

Tivo, DVR or other recording device (recorded and then viewed later)

37

27

46

40

36

37

37

38

37

By purchasing, renting or borrowing episodes or seasons on DVD

29

46

36

28

19

33

26

30

29

Downloading for free

17

27

24

16

10

18

17

21

16

Other pair or free streaming service (NET)

13

22

16

12

6

14

12

10

14

Other free streaming services

12

22

15

11

6

13

11

9

13

Other paid streaming services

1

2

1

2

1

2

1

1

1

Amazon (NET)

10

17

18

8

6

11

10

15

9

Amazon Prime free streaming content

8

14

15

6

4

9

8

11

7

Amazon video on demand (not free)

5

8

8

4

3

5

5

7

4

iTunes

8

17

12

7

4

9

8

12

7

Other

4

4

4

4

4

5

3

3

4

None of these

22

11

10

22

33

19

24

16

24

Note: Multiple responses accepted; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.


TABLE 2

HAVE PRIORITY OWN SCHEDULE SHOWS YOU WATCH FIRST

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

Do you have certain streaming, recorded, downloaded or on-demand shows that you make a priority to watch before anything else and as soon as they are available?

Base: Ever watch TV on Own schedule

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

43

57

59

37

29

43

43

49

41

No

57

43

41

63

71

57

57

51

59

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3

FACTORS INFLUENCING SHOW PRIORITIZATION

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

Which of the following influence which shows you prioritize watching? Please select all that apply.

Base: Have Own schedule viewing priorities

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

My favorite / most enjoyable

81

86

74

80

86

76

85

80

81

I can’t wait to find out what happens next

53

70

57

42

38

46

60

58

51

It depends on how much time I have to watch

42

46

37

47

37

38

45

44

41

I don’t want to get behind and risk plot points being spoiled

37

37

42

34

32

37

36

35

38

It depends on my mood

34

38

40

38

19

40

29

29

37

It depends on who else is around (e.g., watch with a roommate, wait until the kids go to bed, etc.)

27

29

34

29

16

26

29

35

24

I want to be able to discuss it with friends/family/ coworkers (i.e. watercooler shows)

18

24

14

19

13

15

21

21

16

Something else

2

4

1

2

1

3

1

2

2

Note: Multiple responses accepted.


TABLE 4

EVER BINGE VIEW

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

And do you ever watch multiple episodes of a TV show at a time, sometimes called ‘Binge viewing’?

Base: Ever watch TV on Own schedule

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes (NET)

62

78

73

58

48

60

63

67

60

Yes, for older shows or past seasons of current shows

22

24

26

19

20

20

23

19

23

Yes, for current seasons of shows

12

12

12

13

10

12

12

17

10

Yes to both

28

41

35

26

18

28

28

31

27

Older shows (NET)

50

65

61

44

38

48

52

50

50

Current seasons of shows (NET)

40

54

47

39

28

40

40

48

37

No

38

22

27

42

52

40

37

33

40

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 5

FACTORS INFLUENCING BINGE VIEWING A PARTICULAR SHOW

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

Which of the following influence your likelihood to ‘Binge View’ a particular TV program? Please select all that apply.

Base: Ever Binge View

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The type of show (i.e., serial / continuing storyline vs. stand-alone episodes)

56

58

53

63

51

57

56

54

57

To catch up to the live broadcast

44

51

47

41

36

44

44

44

44

The genre of the show (i.e., drama vs. comedy vs. thriller)

43

47

39

38

46

41

44

38

45

To re-watch older episodes before a new season starts

36

38

38

30

36

37

34

38

34

The length of each episode (i.e., hour-long vs. shorter episodes)

34

41

34

27

33

30

38

36

33

The social aspect (e.g., watch marathons with friends, be able to join in watercooler conversations, etc.)

13

25

14

6

5

11

14

13

13

Something else

11

13

7

10

12

12

10

9

11

Note: Multiple responses accepted.

 

TABLE 6

DEVICE MOST OFTEN USE FOR BINGE VIEWING

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

On which of the following devices do you most often find yourself ‘Binge Viewing’?

Base: Ever Binge View

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Television

73

50

75

79

89

71

74

70

74

Computer (NET)

22

42

20

15

10

22

23

22

22

Laptop computer

16

38

7

9

7

13

18

17

15

Desktop computer

6

3

13

7

13

9

4

5

7

Tablet

3

6

2

1

1

4

1

5

2

Smartphone

2

3

 

3

 

2

1

2

1

Something else

1

2

1

1

 

1

1

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

TABLE 7

BINGE VIEWING VS. A YEAR AGO

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

How would you describe your ‘Binge Viewing’?

Base: Ever Binge View

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I am Binge Viewing more now than I was a year ago

28

36

24

27

23

27

29

29

27

I am Binge Viewing the same amount as I was a year ago

52

41

56

55

58

53

51

51

53

I am Binge Viewing less than I was a year ago

20

23

20

18

19

21

20

20

21

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 8

ANTICIPATED CHANGE IN BINGE VIEWING A YEAR FROM NOW

By Age, Gender & Children in HH

As you may or may not be aware, more and more people are using recording, dvd, on-demand or streaming technologies to watch multiple episodes of a TV show at a time, sometimes called ‘Binge Viewing.’ How much do you think you will be ‘Binge Viewing’ a year from now, in comparison to right now?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Age

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Ever Binge View

18-29

30-39

40-54

55+

Male

Female

Yes

No

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I expect to be Binge Viewing more a year from now

9

11

10

6

10

11

8

10

9

9

10

I expect to be Binge Viewing the same amount a year from now

67

65

74

70

62

65

68

69

66

74

60

I expect to be Binge Viewing less a year from now

24

24

16

23

28

24

24

21

25

18

30

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

To see other recent Harris Polls, or to search through over 40 years of topics in the Harris VaultTM, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 13 and 19, 2013 among 2,496 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll  #20, April 8, 2013

By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

 

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients-stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.