Live Streaming Is No Game Changer

Content providers and (probably) journalists are mesmerized by  “live”  because it’s a potent advertising platform and it’s tricky to pull off.

But the hook of live sports on mobile devices--or “live” anything--might be overestimated, if new data from Hub Entertainment Research is a good indication.

Its “Finding Input One” online survey this month of 1,230 U.S. broadband users who watch at least five hours of TV a week concludes that  only 10% of them consider it “essential” to be able to watch live sporting events on phones or tablets with another 16% calling it “very important.”  

Among millennials, the figures aren’t much changed. Just 11% of them think live sports viewing via mobile devices think is essential and 20% call it very important.



But wait….Add it all up and you get at least a quarter to nearly a third of respondents telling Hub that live sports viewing can be, to paraphrase, pretty darn important. That’s not nothing.

The same holds true with live versions of everything else, basically watching TV series at the same time they’re airing.

Only 8% say that’s essential and 20% say it’s very important.  That’s a pretty deep pocket of consumer interest. TV Everywhere isn’t new, but it’s still  catching on. Watching TV more or less as it happens matters in a media environment that doesn’t distinguish between devices.

Peter Fondulas, one of the Hub principles, sees my point. But he still says for all the attention paid to live streaming, it’s not high on customers’ priority list. “Nobody is sitting in a waiting room planning  to watch their favorite show at 8 o’clock,” he says.

In addition to that data, this fascinating Hub research piece mainly dwells on what devices are used to access TV. Like absolutely every new piece of research out there, phones and tablets are high on the trend lines. It’s how a big portion of America often watches TV.

But here’s some more unusual data: 71% say they watch online content on a TV connected to the Internet, up 9 percentage points from a year ago.  

And while game consoles used to be the most popular entry point, now that’s changed. In 2015, 39% of those who watch online shows on a TV set use a smart TV  vs. 42% who connect through a game console. But two years ago, 52% used a console and just 25% a smart TV.

It’s not just smart TVs, of course, but the other growing universe of devices. For example, iTunes customers use an average of 4.3 devices to access online video; Amazon subscribers use 4.1; Netflix streamers use 3.6; and HBO subscribers use 3.5.

Fifty-nine percent of AppleTV users say they’re using that device more than they did a year ago; 50% of Roku users say the same thing, 48% of tablet users and 44% of smartphone owners are using those devices more to watch online fare.

The most awesome stat, in my book, is that according to this survey, 53% of 16-34 year olds use a device other than a cable set-top box as their default for TV viewing. In other words, when they turn on the TV, they’re not first going to ABC, BET or the cable electronic program guide. That’s a telling development.

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