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IABGfK-Reasons-for-Streaming-Online-Video-May2013The IAB has released a new research report [pdf], conducted by GfK, in conjunction with the 2013-2014 NewFronts event. As part of the study, the researchers reveal that among monthly users, network TV shows online (“TV Online”) has the same “wantedness” score as sports on regular TV, and also rivals regular primetime TV, meaning that these viewers attach a similar importance to online and regular TV content. But what motivates viewing of different streaming video types?

As it turns out, access, not surprisingly, is a key factor. For those regular (monthly+) viewers of TV Online, 32% said they like to watch older shows and episodes that are not available on TV, while close to 1 in 4 also said they stream online TV shows because they don’t have pay TV service. (“TV Online” refers to network TV shows online such as 30 Rock and The Walking Dead, found on sites such as ABC.com or HBO.com.)

Interestingly, though, the most common reason for watching TV shows online is to catch up on an episode missed on regular TV, a motivation cited by half of the monthly+ streamers. Not far behind, 44% said they prefer to watch TV shows online on their own schedule.

The ability to watch content on one’s own schedule is a key factor driving online viewing. The study also surveyed regular (monthly+) viewers of user-generated content (such as funny cat videos on YouTube) and original professionally produced online video (OPOV), defined as content “produced only for online viewing, not for showing on TV, but with professional production quality” (such as House of Cards).

Among user-generated content (UGC) viewers, two-thirds watch to get a laugh, clearly the top reason. Yet 23% mention that they stream this content because they prefer to watch video content online on their own schedule, and 22% said they like watching video content that is not available on TV.

Among OPOV viewers, a leading 27% prefer to watch on their own schedule, while 21% like watching video content that is not available on TV.

Although viewers of these online video types are clearly enthusiastic about streaming (“wantedness” scores were also high for UGC and OPOV), it’s worth noting that as of now, they appear to be more motivated by convenience and access than by an overwhelming affinity for the content. Only about 1 in 10 monthly+ users of each digital video type said that the online video content is better than regular TV.

In essence, only 9% of original professionally-produced online content viewers believe that the content is better than what they see on regular TV, a fairly surprising result. Instead, TV Online and OPOV viewers were more likely to say that watching online video is no different from watching regular TV. Being agnostic about what screen they watch video on (with laptops most common for online video) is another indication that digital benefits from the convenience it affords viewers compared to regular TV.

A recent study from Harris Interactive found that 78% of Americans have watched TV “on [their] own schedule,” with streaming services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix as popular as TV on demand, and slightly more popular than recorded content.

About the Data: The data is based on a survey of 2,425 adults screened from a general population sample for being monthly+ viewers of online video and “ever” users of either TV Online, UGC, or OPOV. Full surveys were completed with 1,005 monthly+ viewers. Due to robust sample sizes, analysis was performed on monthly+ users of each video type.

The survey was conducted from March 19-March 25, 2013.

The “wantedness” score measures behavioral attitudes, aggregating 4 components (value, necessity, effort, and persistence) into an aggregate score.

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