Home Analysis Consumers want à la carte but value aggregation

Consumers want à la carte but value aggregation

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The latest Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report, which draws upon responses from over 17,000 consumers as well as experts, reveals the impact that multiscreen viewing and the availability of OTT as well as operator TV Everywhere services has had on how we watch TV. “Viewing TV and video is now something that happens throughout the day,” it reports.

It notes hat the modern consumer has a wealth of choice over their device and content sources. Perhaps happily for Pay TV operators it also notes: “This abundance of choice creates greater complexity for users. There is now an opportunity for service providers to forge new aggregated services that will help consumers simplify the management and selection of their content, enabling them to enjoy the TV and video experience of tomorrow.” The report quotes Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of Viaplay (the multiscreen offer from Viasat/Modern Times Group), saying “I don’t think that the mass-market will tolerate less than having it all in one, or at the most, two different services.”

The report also says we are witnessing the birth of aggregated, pick-and-mix TV solutions. “The quest has begun to become the first easy to use, à la carte TV solution provider that aggregates consumer TV and video needs. Consumers rank having an à la carte TV offering as the fifth most important aspect of their viewing experience.”

A la carte has long been promoted as the choice of consumers, and for just as long has been resisted by content providers who argue that stronger channel brands subsidise the weaker ones. At least two European Pay TV operators already offer a degree of a la carte choice, however, as we have previously reported. Last year Canal Digital Kabel-tv launched a new basic TV package where customers get 30 popular channels as standard but are then able to choose 15 channels individually from a total of 70. (Read more here).

And in June this year Danish cable operator YouSee announced it is making 100 channels available à la carte, with 30 day lock-ins and the ability to choose different channels before the 20th of each month, though customers  still need to subscribe to the basic bundles. YouSee expects around 10% of customers to take advantage of the à la carte offer. (Read more here).

In a wide-ranging report, one the most interesting findings from Ericsson in 2013 is that people are looking at multiscreen devices as alternatives to television sets around the home. It states: “The average home entertainment set-up is moving away from using separate TVs in each room. Instead, a growing number of households use a large main TV supplemented by a number of mobile devices that provide access to services from anywhere in the home. Many households will still have more than one TV; however mobile connected devices will be prioritized over the secondary TV sets, as they offer greater access to content, flexibility and convenience.”

This echoes what we have been hearing consistently from operators and content owners for a couple of years, including one major content owner (story to be published before IBC, with names!) that states: “There is no question that the tablet has become a second television in some homes. It is not a second screen but the first screen for many users – their primary device.”

The Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report declares: “These viewing habits are having social implications. In the past, the TV has served as a point of focus for households, acting as a kind of ‘campfire’ which people would sit around and watch together in the evening. Having multiple screens throughout the household is changing this traditional activity.

“Nowadays, household members are also engaging in individual viewing on the living room sofa using headphones as well as retreating to their own space to watch their second screen.”

The concept of different family members sitting together but watching different things, using headphones, was also highlighted in the recent 2013 Communications Market Report from OFCOM in the UK. This found that 22% of  families with a tablet say they watch different content on different screens while in the same room all or most of the time. OFCOM reckons tablet usage is actually enticing people to the main TV room.

The Ericsson report, announced today, addresses our changing attitudes to both linear TV and on-demand. The value of linear TV is becoming more focused on live sports, events and other content with high ‘here and now’ appeal, it reports. Meanwhile, it finds that even late adopters are becoming advanced video users now. “As many as 41% of 65–69 year olds who were studied stream on-demand/time shifted TV and video content, including YouTube, on a more than weekly basis,” it reveals.

“There is decreasing dependency on linear TV channels and the main household television. Linear TV is becoming more associated with planned appointment viewing,” it adds.

The Ericsson report used 1,000 interviews with online consumers aged 16-59 in each of 15 countries (Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and the U.S.), plus another 2,300 online interviews with respondents aged 60-69 from the same countries (used for age/behaviour comparisons).

When it comes to viewing priorities, consumers list watching good movies first , followed closely by watching good TV series and ‘relaxing in front of the TV, without any effort.’ In terms of what consumers want from their TV service, the top five expectations are: They should be free from ads, provide HD quality, support on-demand and time-shifting, must be super-simple and provide à la carte TV or video content (as noted earlier).

Ericsson has also listed the bottom five services/features that consumers are calling for, which is useful as a guide to over-hyped ideas! These are (in 14th place down to 18th) personalised apps and widgets on top of the TV programme, video telephony, ‘Apps on my standard TV’, watching different camera angles and interactive TV [Editor — Poor old interactive TV, it tries so hard!]

The report also says that the process of discovering content is now unique to each person and sometimes complex. It declares: “The discovery of content in itself has become something which consumers are seeking to simplify – they want a recommendations solution that offers high flexibility.” Advice from family and friends is still the most useful aid to discovery, though less so than in previous years (see separate story).

You can see the Ericsson report findings, which once again provide a useful barometer for what consumers are thinking (and a very credible one given its huge response base) here.

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