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Why Watch Online TV? It Makes Life Easier

Timeshifters typically watch a skipped TV show within three days of airing

October 27, 2014

The option to watch TV shows online means no more rushing home to catch the latest episode of a favorite series or staying up later than one wants. And that flexibility is the primary reason for internet television viewing, based on August 2014 research by comScore.

Reasons that US Internet Users Watch TV* Online, Aug 2014 (% of respondents)

Among US internet users polled, 56% said they watched TV online because they preferred to watch on their own schedule, the most popular response. Similarly, more than 50% said viewing television on the internet was just more convenient. Meanwhile, respondents weren’t as worried about avoiding ads; 38% said they watched TV online to skip commercials, and 33% did so because there were fewer when viewing this way. Binge-watching and lower costs also didn’t play as much of a role in the decision to view TV via internet.

Online TV isn’t the only way to view a television show at the time of one’s choosing, and the study found that a decent percentage of respondents chose the convenience route and timeshifted—that is, watched a TV show after it had appeared live. Those ages 18 to 34 were the most likely to do so, with nearly half in that group watching a show after it had originally aired. Fully 35% of 35- to 54-year-olds did the same, and even 30% of the oldest age group had timeshifted.

Timeframe in Which US Internet Users Typically Watch TV*, by Age and Subscription Type, Aug 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

But even when they push off viewing to a better time, these consumers don’t wait long to catch up. The study found that most internet users who watched a TV series after it was live did so within three days of airing. Even subscribers to paid digital video services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus—who were, unsurprisingly, far more likely to push off TV viewing to a more convenient moment—didn’t waste too much time getting back in the know.

eMarketer estimates that 142.5 million people in the US—56.3% of internet users and 44.7% of the population—will watch digital TV shows at least once per month this year, and this will tip to the majority of consumers in 2016. While there’s no doubt consumers are turning to online channels to get their TV fix when and where they want it, they don’t push it off for too long.

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