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GfK’s industry-first research on SVOD revealed

Global research specialist GfK has revealed findings from its latest research on SVOD services usage

Global research specialist GfK has revealed findings from its latest research on subscription video on demand (SVOD) services usage in the UK and US, examining audience data for OTT viewing of video content for services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant.

“Since doing the tracking study since 2011 there have been a lot of changes,” said Christine Connor, research director at GfK, presenting the results. “The analogue switch-off and an increase in new devices has handed control to consumers.” The company also has retail data, giving an insight into the types of screens and devices audiences use to consume content. In 2004, almost half of TV screen were 21-inches or smaller, according to GfK’s research, which fell to less than 6 per cent in 2014. Sales of TV screens of 42-inches grew to 23.8 per cent this year, compared with 14 per cent 10 years ago. “The UK still lags behind the USA, in terms of main set screen size,” said Connor, “Things are changing. But until lounge rooms get bigger, there will be a limit.”

There has also been an increase in consumers buying smart TVs, with one in five now owning a set. Of their decision to purchase a smart TV, 27 per cent wanted to access VoD services from their main TV and one in three wanted to access the internet. However, it seems that it is not such ‘smart’ functions which drive growth in sales, as 64 per cent of owners gave their reason for buying as simply wanting a new TV.

“Second screening has also grown over the last years as people have access to more devices,” commented Connor. In 2013, 16 per cent had a tablet and 31 per cent owned a smartphone. Just a year later this grew to 40 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively. “In an ideal world you’d want them to be looking at content directly related to what they are watching on TV,” added Connor. Yet “most people don’t want different media activities to be integrated.”

GfK also conducted research into SVOD services, an industry first, claimed Julia Lamaison, media research and insight director, GfK UK. The study was supported by BBC Worldwide, allowing it to “understand the content that audiences love and value on SVOD, who these audiences are and when, where and how they’re watching it,” said Stella Creasey, SVP global research and insights, brands, BBC Worldwide.

Such platforms are fast moving from niche to mainstream, the study suggested, with disruption coming among young audiences. In the UK, 50 per cent of current subscribers to SVOD services are aged 16-34. So what has driven the adoption of these services? GfK’s study in the UK and US involved 5,615 respondents and asked consumers the main reasons they signed up for the services. In the UK the largest proportion wanted access to a catalogue of movies, followed by a desire to access a catalogue of TV series. The idea of ‘binge watching’ seems a relatively new idea, driven by access to SVOD services. However, 42 per cent of respondents in GfK’s study cited wanting to watch multiple episodes in a row as their reason for signing up to the service, slightly below the having access to recent movie releases.

The study also asked about the type of content audiences are consuming. Unsurprisingly, six of the top 10 titles were the same in both the UK and the US and included House of Cards, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Most people watch this content on Netflix: “The market leader in both markets,” said Lamaison. “However, there is evidence that users have multiple accounts,” for streaming TV programmes and movies. Lamaison highlighted NowTV as a newcomer to watch out for. The SVOD service “has been growing recently, and is interesting as its quite a different prospect, offering sports as well as the usual TV packages.”

Our TV consumption habits continue to change, and GfK is continuing to track them: the company announced that it is launching a continuous tracking programme from October, hoping to expand to a 52-week programme covering the UK and the US, with options to cover new markets including the Netherlands and Brazil – both countries where Netflix has recently launched.