While the DVR has become a staple in 50 percent of U.S. homes and has helped change the way consumers watch video, it’s not the only way consumers can watch on their own terms. Homes without the additional hardware are just as able to enjoy the experience of watching on their own time and at their own leisure thanks to expanding video on demand (VOD) accessibility.
According to Nielsen’s Q2 2013 Cross-Platform Report, set-top box VOD is found in about 60 percent of U.S. households—up from 37 percent in 2008. While the technology has been available for over a decade, it wasn't always readily available. Consumers initially found the interface difficult to use, and program distributors were wary of delivering content outside of their window of monetization if the audience could not be reported. Because of these issues, VOD options for the consumer were often limited to old shows or past seasons of shows.
Over the past year, however, networks have stepped up their efforts to make more recent content available, including recently telecast content and multiple episodes from the current season. VOD access is also much more user friendly than it has been in the past. This pivot has largely been facilitated by the ability to include and break out viewing from the VOD play to the current episode of a show if aired within the seven-day window of an original telecast.
Cable and satellite providers can now offer DVR-like capabilities to their consumers in an easy fashion, and networks have an additional opportunity to deliver content to consumers who, in turn, have more viewing choices—when, where and how they want. And what they watch on VOD, according to Nielsen’s Q2 2013 Cross-Platform Report, is feature films. Feature films were the top VOD choice by genre among two very different consumers—the 18-34 and 50+ demos. In fact, 52 percent of the programs viewers 18-34 watched on VOD were feature films.
In terms of traditional viewing, daily time spent watching live content has rebounded slightly from a year ago, and DVR playback remains a popular way consumers watch content. But that’s not the only way they’re viewing. In Q2 2013, the average American spent close to 39 hours per week engaging with content across all screens while logging four hours and 19 minutes of traditional TV daily.