TV Not Just A `Spectator' Sport For Multicultural Viewers

There’s no doubt that technology has forever altered how viewers consume and watch video content. While most viewers still turn to the boob tube to watch their favorite shows, viewing on other platforms such as the PC, video games and mobile devices continue to increase, thereby shrinking the percentage of traditional TV viewers.

Only 28% of respondents to the Horowitz Associates 2014 State of Cable and Digital Media study of traditional and new media/OTT habits habits (to be unveiled March 20 during the Horowitz Associates Multicultural Media Forum in New York) claimed to watch 95% of their TV live, while just another 23% of TV viewers are “spectators” -- lean-back TV viewers who watch appointment TV 85% of the time.

That leaves nearly half of the remaining video viewing audience heavily using multi-platform services to watching their favorite TV shows. According to study, that audience ranges from “traditional curators” (17%) who watch 40% of their TV content through DVR and VOD services, to “Modern Multichannel Families” (15%) who utilized DVRs and on demand programming more than half the time, to “Modern Streaming Families” (9%) who stream their video content from OTT services like Netflix and Hulu – or through other internet sites – 44% of the time. The last segment is “Untethered Curators,” (8%) who stream video content 80% of the time.

For distributors and network executives trying to best serve viewers on various platforms, the demographic makeup of these segments are just as important as how they’re consuming video. According to the study, the “Modern Multichannel Families” and the “Modern Streaming Families” are the most ethnically and racially diverse of all the segments, with the "Multichannel Families" overindexing on African Americans, and "Streaming Families" overindexing on Hispanics and Asians compared to the total population.

The big takeaway is these segments are also among the youngest-skewing because they include the children of today’s cable customers who, the cable industry hopes, will eventually grow up to be tomorrow’s multichannel subscribers – or at the very least broadband only subscribers. The only way that happens is if those future subscribers perceive cable TV as a value to them, which translates into having easy access to content and services that they view as informative, entertaining and reflective of their tastes and interests.

That is the clear challenge for anyone looking to serve a young, diverse and technologically savvy consumer base. 

"It becomes strikingly clear once again that the most valuable customers for multichannel, digital and now OTT content and services are youg, diverse, multicultural households and families," said Adriana Waterston, senior vice president of business development for Horowitz Associates Market and Multicultural Research. "Understanding how to engage with these important viewers is the holy grail for all new OTT and digital media players, and where the competition is joined with traditional broadcast and cable media."