Sports Broadcasts Holding the Line Against “Delayed Viewership” Incursion

New York, N.Y. – April 2, 2013 – Perhaps you’ve already heard, seen, read, or otherwise learned of the myriad ways technology now offers us to consume TV programming at our own convenience, regardless of when it plays on the cable, satellite or over the air feed.  Perhaps you’ve even experienced some of these expanding options yourself.  In fact, based on recent studies, chances are you have. But in this age where we can largely watch what we want, when we want, what special something compels viewers to consider one thing “gotta see it” and another thing “get to it when I get to it”?  Apparently that special something… is a ball.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,276 U.S. adults surveyed online between March 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.  

Sports broadcasts maintain possession (of viewers, that is)

When asked how they most often watch each of a series of TV programming types – with options including live, “semi-live” (recording but beginning to watch while still airing live), recording and trying to watch the same day or night, watching when they get to it or waiting until several new episodes can be watched all at once – strong majorities of those Americans who watch each indicate typically watching football (81% pro, 74% college), basketball (67% pro, 69% college) and baseball (69% pro) either live or semi-live.  Over six in ten indicate the same for sports talk shows (63%), while awards shows (59%) are the only non-sports centric programming type achieving this distinction.

When those who watch sports and prefer to do so live or semi-live are unable to watch a game or event they’re excited about in either of these ways, the question of whether to still watch it eventually comes down to a near photo finish, with the desire to still see it for themselves (53%) narrowly edging out the sentiment that if they can’t watch it live, they don’t want to watch it at all (47%).

Roughly half of evening talk/comedy show viewers (52%) indicate watching live or semi-live, with similar results seen for daytime talk shows (50%) and soap operas (48%).

Prime time staples intercepted by delayed viewership

By comparison, the mainstays of prime time programming, scripted shows, are struggling to hold onto their once-proud must-see status.  Delayed viewing options outpace combined live and semi-live viewing for comedies (55% delayed, 45% live or semi-live), thrillers (56% and 44%, respectively) and dramas (also 56% and 44%, respectively).

March Madness entering the final stretch – and fans will, of course, be watching it live

Among the 38% of Americans planning on following the 2013 March Madness tournament (in data collected prior to the “First Four”), the majority (54%) indicated planning on following as much as they could throughout the tournament, from the “First Four” on, while three in ten (29%) indicated they would likely start following during the “Sweet 16.” 

And how do you think the vast majority (86%) of those viewers will be taking in all the action?  That’s right – live (84% on TV, 4% via online streaming or an app).

So what?

TV advertisers are in an increasingly tight spot, with live viewership for many types of programming on the wane and even the semi-live approach allowing viewers to skip through much, if not all, ads (depending on the length of viewership delay). 

Content providers face a similar challenge.  While several approaches have emerged for monetizing online viewership, none have yet emerged as a gold standard.

But for the time being at least, sports programming appears to be successfully holding onto the ball.


TABLE 1

HOW WATCH VARIOUS TYPES OF PROGRAMMING

Summary Table

“Which of the following describes how you most often watch each of the following types of programming?”

Base: Those who watch each type of programming

 

LIVE / SEMI-LIVE (NET)

“Live” feed – I watch it as it airs

“Semi-live” – I record it but start watching while it’s still airing

Delayed (NET)

I record it and try to watch it the same day or night

I try to watch it when I get to it

I wait until there are several new episodes I can watch all at once (via recording, on-demand, streaming or downloading

Professional football

%

81

74

7

19

5

13

1

College football

%

74

69

6

26

6

18

2

College basketball

%

69

64

5

31

6

23

2

Professional baseball

%

69

62

7

31

4

26

1

Professional basketball

%

67

60

7

33

7

24

3

Sports talk shows (e.g., SportsCenter, etc.)

%

63

58

5

37

10

25

2

Awards shows (e.g., Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, etc.)

%

59

51

8

41

8

31

2

Evening talk/comedy shows (e.g., The Tonight Show, The Daily Show, etc.)

%

52

45

7

48

10

34

4

Daytime talk shows (e.g., Ellen, Dr. Phil, etc.)

%

50

44

6

50

10

36

3

Soap operas

%

48

38

9

52

17

29

6

Comedies

%

45

40

6

55

11

35

8

Thrillers

%

44

38

6

56

12

37

8

Dramas

%

44

38

6

56

12

34

9

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

 

TABLE 2

STILL WANT TO WATCH SPORTS EVEN IF CAN’T SEE LIVE

 “You indicated that you prefer to watch sports either live or semi-live.  If there is a game or event you’re excited about but are unable to watch live or semi-live, will you still watch it eventually?”

Base: Watch sports & prefer to watch live or semi-live

 

Total

%

Yes – I’ll still want to see it for myself

53

No – if I can’t watch it live, I don’t want to watch it at all

47

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

 

 


TABLE 3

MARCH MADNESS VIEWERSHIP PLANS

“Which of the following best describes your plans for following the 2013 NCAA March Madness basketball tournament?”

Base: U.S. adults

 

Total

Among those planning on following March Madness at all

%

%

Plan to follow any of the March Madness tournament (NET)

38

100

   I plan to follow as much as I can throughout the tournament (from the “First Four” on)

20

54

   I plan to start following the tournament during the Second Round (“Round of 64”)

4

11

   I plan to start following the tournament during the Third Round (“Round of 32”)

2

6

Plan to follow from “Sweet 16” on (NET)

11

29

   I plan to start following the tournament during the Regional Semi-Finals (“Sweet 16”)

4

10

   I plan to start following the tournament during the Regional Finals (“Elite Eight”)

1

3

   I plan to start following the tournament during the National Semi-Finals (“Final Four”)

2

6

   I plan to follow the National Championship only

4

9

I am not planning on following the March Madness tournament at all

62

NA

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

 

TABLE 4

HOW PLAN ON PRIMARILY WATCHING MARCH MADNESS

“How do you primarily anticipate watching March Madness?”

Base: U.S. adults who are planning on watching March Madness

 

Total

%

Live (NET)

86

Live on TV

82

Stream live games online or through an app

4

Watch older games (NET)

5

Stream previously played games online or through an app

3

Record on a DVR or other device and watch later

3

Record on a DVR or other device and watch “semi-live”

4

Some other way

2

Not at all sure

3

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 March 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,276 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® #17, April 2, 2013

By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

 

About Harris Interactive

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