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Thinkbox study reveals our viewing 'need states'

15 Nov 2018  |  Scarlett O'Donoghue 
Thinkbox study reveals our viewing 'need states'

With daily UK TV and video viewing now reaching almost five hours per person, TV marketing body Thinkbox has conducted research to find out what motivates our choice to watch either live TV, on-demand TV (from broadcasters and subscription services) or video on online platforms.

Conducted by research consultancy MTM, 'The Age of Television' combines findings from a quantitative survey of 6,000 people in the UK with qualitative analysis of 150 days of TV and video viewing, filmed through camera glasses worn by 30 people.

The research found that our motivations can be categorised into eight different 'need states': unwind, distract, comfort, in touch, experience, indulge, escape and do.

Unwind, distract and comfort together make up 60% of all viewing time in the UK.

Live TV was found to be the number one choice for people looking to unwind, accounting for 56% of relaxation viewing time. It also accounts for over two-thirds of viewing time spent in the experience state (where viewers are looking to watch content together or to join a social conversation) and 77% of time viewers spend looking to get in touch with world events.

Meanwhile, catch-up and on-demand TV accounts for 32% of viewing watched when viewers wish to escape reality by immersing themselves in another world. This number rises among younger viewers, accounting for 42% of 16-34 year old viewing whilst in this need state.

Elsewhere, online video on platforms such as YouTube excel with those who are looking for distraction - such as when waiting for a bus - especially with younger audiences. Online video accounts for 30% of all viewing in this need state, rising to 40% for 16-34 year olds, largely due to the often mobile nature of use and prevalence of short-form content.

Online video also dominates viewing when people are seeking out useful, practical information - accounting for 56% of hours compared to 31% for live TV and 10% for on-demand due to its long tail of accessible tutorials.

The research also identified some significant differences in viewing motivation between generations. Younger people were found to demand more distraction, with the distract need state accounting for 29% of 16-24 year olds' total viewing time compared to 13% among 55-64 year olds.

“This research explains why different forms of video co-exist and why TV broadcasters’ live and on-demand offerings continue to make up the vast majority of video viewing time," said Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox.

"It also shows how services like Netflix have emerged to superserve some of our needs when we watch TV, but that they can’t reach all the places TV can – especially the more social and shared reasons to watch, which are so important to people. And it shows how YouTube is often UseTube, with a distinct role for practical help.”

James Bryson, managing partner, MTM, added: “This has been one of the most ambitious and exciting studies that MTM has been involved in. Our research provides a comprehensive understanding of the needs that influence viewer choices across all forms of video. It’s demonstrated the enduring and distinct value of TV for audiences, alongside newer video platforms.”

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