Meet the 'Video Explorers'—the Next Important Group Advertisers and Programmers Need to Know Better
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/15/2013 1:28:30 PM
Yet these "Video Explorers," as Discovery labels them, will prove to be an important segment for both programmers and advertisers to reach as they continue to exert their influence over what shows people watch and which brands they buy, according to Pam Pearce, director of ad sales research, and David Ernst, VP of ad sales research, for Discovery Communications.
As more of the viewing audience turns to streaming and further fragments live TV watching, it is going to be incumbent on media buyers and planners to have as complete a demographic profile as possible on these Video Explorers, who will no longer be reachable as part of that traditional live mass TV audience.
"With increased fragmentation, advertisers will need to aggregate audiences to a great extend to reach across many platforms," wrote Pearce and Ernst in their study analysis. "The good news here is that most Explorers are not looking to avoid advertising as a motivation for streaming. And, just as with DVR adoption, we can expect that those who are the most anti-advertising have already adopted some over-the-top or streaming behavior.
"Our study points to the fact that the quality of programming will be more vital than ever as a key to retaining viewers as audience shift their behavior," they added.
In the study, conducted last October, Discovery's researchers polled 293 viewers over age 18 from among the 15,000-plus members of the Discovery Influencer Panel, an ongoing custom research group that the network taps into for various studies. The 293 viewers were randomly selected and the survey was conducted via an online questionnaire.
To be part of the panel, viewers must watch one show among the Discovery family of networks at least once per week and cannot be employed in the media or advertising industries. Each panel member is required to complete an extensive profile.
Research conducted among the Influencer Panel indicated that while connected or over-the-top devices are important to the Video Explorers, they are not the first, second or even third choice when they sit down to watch. Their initial instinct is to either check what's on the DVR or go directly to the channel that has a program they already know they want to watch.
The study found the primary motivation for Explorers to use streaming and over-the-top devices is to search for content. Two-thirds of Explorers are paying for additional content services, with Netflix being the most popular additional service.
The study also found that the desire to be cord-free is a less significant contributor to seeking streaming options. Less than 30% of Explorers said they are adding streaming services to cut down on costs by avoiding cable fees.
Overall, the penetration of streaming devices right now is small compared to the more mature devices used in conjunction with TVs, such as DVRs, tablets and iPads. The survey found that only 19% of respondents have a device to stream video on their TVs such as Roku, Boxee or Apple TV, while 93% have a DVR, 60% have a video game system or a DVR device, 23% have an iPad and 18% have a smart TV.
For both streamers and non-streamers, the largest percentage of their monthly TV viewing is still done via live TV, although the percentages vary. Among persons with streaming devices, 30% of their monthly TV viewing is done live, compared to 46% among non-streamers.
When asked about their preferred method of watching content on their TVs, 42% of the Video Explorers or streamers said their DVR was first, vs. 32% who said live TV and 18% who said streaming. For non-streamers, 53% said that live TV is their preferred method of watching content on their TV, followed by the DVR (38%).
Among streamers, 29% check their DVR first when sitting down to watch TV, followed by 26% who go directly to a TV channel they know their favorite show is on. Another 16% check their favorite channels to see what's on and 13% go to the program guide.
Among non-streamers, 27% check their favorite channels first, 26% check their DVRs first, 22% go to the program guide and 20% go directly to the channel they know their favorite program is playing on.
Among streamers, Netflix was named by 71% of respondents as a streaming service they subscribe to, followed by YouTube (42%), Hulu (24%), HuluPlus and Amazon (21% each), network websites (15%), Popcornflix (12%) and iTunes Videos (9%).
A little over 41% of streamers feel the streaming services they use are on par with their current subscription TV services. Another 12% believe they are much better and 18% believe they are somewhat better, but 26% also believe they are somewhat worse and 3% believe they are much worse than pay-TV services.
As far as frequency among streamers goes, 24% do so daily, 12% do so five to six times per week, 26% do so two to four times a week, 12% stream weekly, 6% stream less than once a week but more than once a month and 21% stream once per month or less.
What is the motivation for streaming TV programming? In the survey, 65% of streamers said they do so to catch up on past episodes, and 59% each said they watch movies, stream to increase the variety of their content and stream to access content unavailable through cable subscriptions. Also, 50% said they also stream to discover new content, 29% said they do so to avoid commercials, 29% do so to cut costs and 21% do so to avoid cable or satellite subscriptions.
While 56% said they stream to search for programs they usually watch on TV, 65% also said they browse until they find a show that looks interesting, though not necessarily something they've seen before. Only 29% search for programs recommended by family and friends and only 12% browse for programs by network.
The study can be viewed here.
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