Accenture Study: Viewers Disenchanted with Network TV

Network-TV watchers around the globe are more loyal to content than to any branded delivery system, but they are also becoming disenchanted with network TV in general, including ads, and more ready and willing to go somewhere else to get their video.

That's according to an inaugural Global Broadcast Consumer Survey of viewing preferences in eight countries that was released Monday by consulting firm Accenture.

"Today’s youth are more dissatisfied with the traditional television experience and increasingly excited by the availability of new choices,” Accenture executive David Wolf said in announcing the study.

Those findings, the study suggested, mean that viewers are ripe for being wooed to other delivery devices and platforms.

The study found that 83% of respondents expressed some discontent with watching "live" TV, which translated to broadcast or cable, while 41% of American TV watchers and 39% of Brits still watch at least eight shows per week. The study suggested that TV networks need to deliver content directly to viewers through new digital means or risk losing more of their audience.

For example, the study found that 46% of 18- to 24-year-olds watch some content on mobile devices -- a "wave" of change that networks must ride or be left behind, Accenture suggested.

“The under-35-year-old group is more likely to watch content on alternative devices, more likely to be familiar with on-demand TV, prefers watching content on-demand and is more willing to pay to download content,” Wolf said in a release.

The study suggested that the audience wasn't looking for promos or episodes tailored to short attention spans. Only 16% of respondents said they wanted program highlights or "shortened versions" of episodes.

They are looking for user-generated content, the study found, and more than one-third of them (37%) were willing to pay to download TV shows, with one-half of those preferring flat, monthly fees. One-third would rather not pay at all, saying that they were willing to watch ads in the shows.

The poll was conducted online with 1,000 people in each of the following six countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, phone polls of 500 people apiece were conducted in Mexico and Brazil.

The ages of the respondents varied due to polling differences in each country. In Europe, adults 16-54 were interviewed in Italy and Spain, and adults 16-64 in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. In the United States, it was adults 18-plus, while the phone survey in Brazil and Mexico was of adults 18-64.

Other key findings:

• Six out of 10 said they would enjoy watching some content on their PCs.

• 46% preferred to watch sports and news “live”; 23% said they would like to watch dramas and sitcoms on-demand.

• TV commercials were the biggest complaint, with 64% saying it is what they most disliked about "live" TV. Next in the most-disliked category was "not being able to ‘rewind’” (40%) and "not being able to watch programs at the viewer’s convenience" (38%). Viewers were not particularly worried about "troublesome or unappealing" content (14% disliked that most), followed by -- attention Slingbox -- being unable to watch TV away from home (8%); ability to interact with the content (7%); "or to rate programs" (7%).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.