nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Can Sony/Crackle/Magid be right that 97% 18-49s can stream to the TV?

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UK Connected Device Ownership

Every now and again I see some research that grabs my attention. Sony/Crackle and Magid Associates released data that seems zig while the rest of the market is zagging. According to the research, 96% of 18-49 year olds now have the ability to stream to their televisions and 54% actually do. What’s more, the companies say that TV handily beats out mobile devices. Other independent evidence suggests this might not be the case.

I’m in the UK this week, so decided to look at data from that market to validate the Sony/Crackle data (Crackle is available in the UK and it’s not entirely clear from the Sony/Crackle data if it is US or UK based.) According to Ofcom (the UK’s regulatory and competition authority for telecommunication,) penetration of household Internet access is 90% in the 18-49 age range.  This includes many homes that rely on mobile data plans. Focusing on fixed broadband, since it is logistically difficult to connect a TV with a mobile plan, the penetration likely falls well below 80% in that age range.

According to Barb, the UK’s equivalent to Nielsen, TV penetration of the households in the UK is just under 97%. Although I couldn’t find specific data about television ownership in the 18-49 year olds, in the U.S. data from Nielsen suggests TV ownership might actually be lower in the younger age group.

The most popular TV connectable device in the UK, as in the US, is the game console. Ofcom pegs ownership at around 50%. The next most popular device is the” VOD STB” which the company suggests is mostly operator provided DVRs and STBs. Smart TVs ownership languishes at just 7%. Ofcom also says 59% of homes have 3 Internet enabled devices.Combining all this data, it seems to me that an optimist would estimate that 50% of 18-49 have the ability to stream to their TVs today. Saying that 96% of them can do this stretches the bounds of credulity just a little bit too far.Looking at the split between connected TV streaming and mobile, I feel similarly skeptical. Consulting BBC iPlayer data paints a very different picture to that provided by Sony/Crackle/Magid. The dominant platform for streaming remains the PC, with 33% of requests, but the tablet is just behind at 25%. If you add in smartphone requests, we see that mobile devices account for 40% of iPlayer video requests. What about the connected TV? Game consoles and other TV platforms accounted for just 10% of requests.

Given that the BBC is the number one broadcaster in the UK, by far, it seems likely its results are a close approximation to what the rest of the market is doing. This is a far cry from the Sony/Crackle/Magid data which says 54% use the connected TV, 44% use the PC and 33% tablets or smartphones.

Finally, what of the claim that online streaming is now the “second consideration” in the home after broadcast TV? Two data points make me question this assertion as well. Ofcom says that 67% of UK households had a DVR in 2012 and that 10% of viewing was time-shifted. Secondly, BBC data suggest that TV peak viewers out number iPlayer peak viewers 50 to 1. Both of these data points suggest strongly that in the majority of UK homes the DVR is probably the second device considered after broadcast, not online.

There’s plenty of reason to believe the same arguments hold for the US market as well as the UK market. Broadband and smart TV penetrations are similar, Netflix and Crackle are both available.

In short, there seems to be solid, reliable evidence that Sony/Crackle/Magid data reported in the press is considerably over-estimating the usage of connected TV for streaming purposes.

Why it matters
According to a variety of sources, mobile devices are moving to the ascendancy in driving the consumption of online video.

However, linear TV and DVR consumption still dominate at the TV.

The claims of Sony/Crackle/Magid refute both of these assertions, though a detailed inspection of independent data sources should make you question these claims.

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