Generational switch to watching TV on tablets and phone has begun here.
BY: MARIO CANSECO
Last month, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications announced Shomi, a video streaming service that will provide subscribers with 11,000 hours of movies and television shows on computers, tablets and mobile phones.
The deal aims to attract the millions of Canadians who rely on Netflix for their entertainment, with Shomi charging the same $8.99 a month for unlimited access. The push for on-demand content is coming primarily from younger Canadians, those who grew up with the Internet.
Earlier this year, Insights West took a look at the way we watch television. The average British Columbian spends 17 hours a week watching programs. But the way we take in our shows, movies and sports changes dramatically with age.
Half of TV viewing time in B.C. is devoted to watching shows as they are being broadcast, with the other half involves watching recordings, streaming and downloading. That’s a big change from 10 years ago, when streaming video was excruciatingly slow and the variety of content limited.
Eight per cent of survey respondents say they watch shows downloaded from the Internet on a computer tablet or smartphone. This might seem like a negligible statistic, but it climbs to 14 per cent for those aged 18-to-34.
Live streaming, which works particularly well for sporting events, is also becoming more popular. While 14 per cent of all B.C. residents have streamed content, the proportion jumps to 25 per cent among those aged 18-to-34. This means that two out of every five minutes that a young adult in B.C. spends watching television are spent in front of a mobile device and not a TV set.
A generational shift is underway. B.C.’s youngest residents are walking away from cable boxes, and streaming and downloading more than ever before. There’s no need to stay at home and wait, when entire seasons can be downloaded quickly and easily. For sports fans, practically any match in any country is available online.
Live television has a tough challenge ahead, as young residents continue to watch content at a time and place of their choosing.
The pressure will be particularly harsh for TV producers in the United States, who will have a tougher time luring advertisers. In 1995, the Fox network cancelled an animated show called The Critic because it averaged only 5.2 million viewers a night in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, way below the 15.7 million who were tuning in to watch Seinfeld on rival NBC.
Two decades later, the biggest show on network TV in the United States is The Big Bang Theory on CBS, with an average of 5.0 million viewers a night. A rating that is good enough for the top spot in today’s network TV landscape would have merited a show’s cancellation two decades ago.
Yet North Americans are not walking away from produced shows, but simply finding other ways to get the content they want, even if the screen is smaller.
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