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4 Surprising Insights on How Consumers Watch TV

 

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Yes, quality matters. In fact, a quality experience is not only worth paying for, it’s worth waiting for. We’re not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, an ambitious home remodeling or a lavish wedding. We’re talking about the mundane, everyday activity of finding something good to watch. A new study by Ericsson ConsumerLab yielded some surprising insights into what people will do for quality.

  • 44% of Americans who watched regularly scheduled free TV programs said that at least once a day while flipping through channels, they failed to find anything worth watching. That compares to 34% of subscribers to paid services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
  • Only 51% of free-TV watchers said they were satisfied with the overall experience of searching for programs. Paying subscribers had a satisfaction rate of 63%.

These figures suggest a need for more research into the “why” –  that is, what are viewers’ reasons for being satisfied or dissatisfied with their searches for the right programs? The above numbers identify a big consumer satisfaction problem. Probing for the reasons could help solve or at least alleviate it.

  • Free TV viewers spend 15% of their TV time searching for programming to watch.
  • That’s proportionally way less time than paying subscribers spend searching for programs. It’s 34% for Netflix users, 29.7% for Amazon Prime, and 24.6% for Hulu.

Usually, consumers would be expected to choose the more time-efficient option – free TV – over the one where the cost-benefit ratio of time spent searching for programs seems much worse. Yet clearly there’s a great hunger to watch programs we must pay for.

Ericsson puts it this way: “The time-consuming discovery process can be frustrating, yet it is acceptable because [Video on Demand] enables consumers to find content they want to watch, when they want to watch it.” The takeaway is the importance of offering quality. Paid-TV consumers are willing to pay not only in dollars, but in precious time, to access quality programming. For them, “quick and easy” is less satisfying than “be willing to work for what you want.”

 

But clearly, the Ericsson study shows room for improvement for both paid and free TV providers. Picking a program to watch is a kind of shopping experience, and a third or more of TV providers’ customers aren’t happy with it. The TV provider that can acquire insights pointing to a solution could be rewarded with a nice competitive advantage.