MBPT Spotlight: Live Viewing Still Rules But Streamers Are Worth Watching, Says Survey

A survey by Pittsburgh-based research and insights company CivicScience finds 47% of U.S. television viewers primarily watch TV live, compared to 23% who say they watch via DVR in time-delayed mode, and 17% who primarily view via online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

The survey included 9,059 respondents ages 13 and older and weighted according to U.S. Census figures for gender and age. Among the respondents who watch live TV primarily, 52% were men and 48% women, however women were slightly more likely than men to watch TV programming on-demand or via DVR (52% to 48%) and also more likely to watch via online streaming (54% to 46%).

The survey offers marketers myriad data of TV viewing patterns by age and gender and also mentions a few brands favored by each of the demo groups. The survey results also indicate that streaming TV viewers should be a group that marketers keep an eye on going forward.

Live TV viewers tend to be older, most are parents and grandparents, they have a heavy preference for news programming, tend to be from more rural areas and earn under $75,000 in annual household income, but are the most influenced by advertising on television. Among the brands they like are Arby’s, Lone Star Steakhouse, L.L. Bean, Rockport, Cracker Barrel and Carhartt.

On-demand or DVR viewers are more likely to be in the 25-44-year-old demo, live in the suburbs, are parents, own a home, make between $25,000 and $150,000 annually, prefer dramas and music programs, use Facebook, get fashion inspiration from TV and movies and tend to spread the word to their friends about their favorite products. Brands this group likes include Olive Garden, Houlihan’s, Five Guys, Panera Bread and Hanes.

Online streaming viewers are more likely to be under 25, have incomes under $50,000, live in urban areas, don’t own a home or have children, favor sitcoms, use Pinterest and are major social media users. Females use online streaming slightly more than males, the survey found. Among the brands this group likes include Trader Joe’s, Red Lobster, L.L. Bean, Netflix, Sam’s Club and Long John Silver’s.

Breaking the viewing patterns down by age, in the under-18 demo group, 15% favor watching via streaming, which is the highest viewing percentage within that group. Another 8% favor watching via on-demand or by DVR, and just 6% say they favor watching live TV.

Among the 18-24 group, those favoring streaming video soars. Within that group 30% favor online streaming most, compared to 10% who like on-demand or DVR viewing best, and 7% who like live TV most.

Among the upper level of millennials, ages 25-34, 24% favor streaming video most, compared to 22% who like on-demand or DVR viewing best, and 14% who like live TV most.

In the 35-44 demo group, 22% favor on-demand or DVR viewing most, with 14% favoring streaming and 14% favoring live TV.

The 45-54 demo group favors live TV viewing most, with 20% selecting that method, compared to 18% who chose on-demand or DVR and 10% who chose streaming.

In the 55-64 group, 19% favor live TV, while 11% enjoy watching on-demand or via DVR best and just 4% saying they enjoy streaming most. And among the 65-plus demo group, 23% said watching TV live is their favorite method, followed by 9% who said on-demand or via DVR and 3% who said streaming.

The survey found education doesn’t substantially affect TV viewership habits, but age can be a factor when it comes to online streaming of TV shows, where those enjoying that method of viewing most are likely to still be living at home with their parents or are renters. 

News Worthiness

Younger viewers, who enjoy streaming most, tend to watch the least amount of TV news. Among live TV watchers, 50% say they watch the local TV news on a daily basis.

Regarding shopping habits, streaming viewers rank higher in showrooming while in stores (81%) and for doing research online before buying in stores (87%). Streaming TV viewers were also more likely to see themselves as fashion leaders, to follow fashion trends, to try new products and to tell others about new products. And they were significantly more likely (62%) to write negative product reviews.

Only 13% of those who favor live TV viewing are Twitter users, compared to 32% who favor streaming viewing, and only 9% of live TV viewers say they use Pinterest compared to 34% of streamers. The one area of social media where live TV viewers and streamers participate almost at the same level is on Facebook, where 50% of live TV viewers say they are users, compared to 57% of streamers.

Younger streamer viewers also come across as being more tech savvy and identify themselves as such. Among streamers 66% say they are “addicted” to digital devices, while 38% of live TV viewers say they are. Seventy-four percent of streaming TV viewers say they own smartphones, compared to 45% of live TV viewers. And only 14% of live TV viewers say they user multiple devices at the same time, compared to 46% of TV streaming viewers.

Streaming viewers tend to watch more music and entertainment programming and sitcoms, while live TV viewers are biggest fans of sports, drama, reality and news.

As for who is most influenced by ads on television, 66% of those who favor watching live TV say they are, compared to 51% who say they most enjoy watching TV on-demand, and just 28% of those who favor streaming viewing.