Voice Search Awareness, Accessibility Inch Ahead: TiVo Study

Accessibility and awareness of voice search for TV navigation is ticking up, but adoption is still lagging, as a sizable number of consumers with that capability still don’t use it, TiVo found in its Q4 2017 Online Video and Pay-TV Trends Report.

The study, based on a survey of 3,330 adults in the U.S. and Canada, found that 24.4% said they have voice search available to them, but just over half (13.9%) said they actually use it.

But some other results show that voice search continues to catch on, albeit at a slow pace.

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Awareness is evidently up, as fewer consumers than last year (5.4%) said they were unsure if voice search was an option for them, while accessibility rose 4 percentage points quarter-versus-quarter, and 13.5 points over two years. About 20.2% without voice search said they’d like the ability to do so.

For Q4, 45.3% said they use a cable or satellite box or remote for voice search, ahead of other platforms – Amazon Fire TV (31.7%), Apple TV (18.1%), game consoles (17.7%), Roku (10.6%) and TiVo’s new Bolt Vox (1.5%). However, TiVo’s new device entrant saw the highest average of voice searches per week, at 8.6, ahead of Apple TV’s 7.6.

As for consumers who aren’t interested in voice search, 53.8% said it’s a “gimmick” with no real benefit, down 5% quarter-on-quarter, while 21.3% said they aren’t comfortable talking into a device to find something to watch on TV.

Though remotes with microphones are among the top ways people use voice search, a growing number of pay TV providers are starting to integrate that capability with smart speakers.

TiVo found that 21.5% of those surveyed owned a smart speaker, up 6.9% quarter-over-quarter. Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo and Dot products combined for 57% of the market, ahead of Google Home’s 35.5%. Not factoring in yet was the Apple HomePod, which launched in February. Roku is also getting into the smart speaker game through a program for CE partners.

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Turning to SVOD, TiVo’s study found that 68.2% of respondents used such a service, up 4.6% quarter over quarter, and 12.8 percentage points over two years. Some 69.5% of them are “cord-cheaters” that have a pay TV service and complement it with one or more SVOD services.

Almost 39% said they spend $9 to $14 on SVOD services, while 13.7% spend $25 or more each month, up 5.5 percentage points year-on-year. Nearly half (48.1%) said they watch one to three hours of SVOD content per day.

The study also focused on a broader group of subscription video services that includes SVODs and virtual MVPDs. Netflix leads the way, with 54.8% of the surveyed group subscribing, versus Amazon Prime Video (25.6%), Hulu SVOD (16.7%), YouTube TV (8.5%), HBO Now (6.1%), Showtime (5.6%), Starz (5.2%), DirecTV Now (3.8%), CBS All Access (3.4%), Sling TV (2.4%), PlayStation Vue (2.3%), Hulu Live (2%) and fuboTV (0.8%).

In the study’s latest look at the cord-cutting trend, TiVo found that 85.2% take a pay TV service, but 18.9% cut service in the last 12 months. That latter number is at its lowest since the Q3 2016 survey results, but the number of consumers who have not had a cable or satellite TV service in for greater than 12 months rose 4.6% year-on-year.

That caused TiVo to wonder if consumers are cutting the cord and choosing not to resubscribe to cable because they’re not missing it. Notably, 7.3% said they plan to cut their pay TV service, a slight increase from the previous quarter.

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Price remains the top reason (86.7%) for consumers to cancel pay TV service, the highest it’s been since TiVo introduced the question in Q3 2016. Use of a streaming service (39.7%) and use of an antenna (23%) rounded out the main three reasons.

For consumers without pay TV, 44.8% said they use an antenna, but that figure has basically flattened out over the past six quarter, TiVo found.

For Q4 2017, 63.5% of respondents have used one or more streaming devices in the last three months, an increase of 3.4 percentage points quarter over quarter, and 6.8 points year-on-year. Among those with streaming devices, just 14.2% use them to access their pay TV service, the study found.