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The Cross Platform Report – Q4 2011

2 minute read | May 2012

The average American watches nearly five hours of video each day, 98 percent of which they watch on a traditional TV set. Although this ratio is less than it was just a few years ago, and continues to change, the fact remains that Americans are not turning off. They are shifting to new technologies and devices that make it easier for them to watch the content they want whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. As such, the definition of the traditional TV home will continue to evolve.

In the past year, the number of homes with an HDTV grew by more than 8 million. This suggests that the TV screen remains the dominant platform on which to consume content, even though the means by which the content is delivered to the screen might be shifting. Watching traditional—live and timeshifted—TV remains the bulk of all activity on TV sets, accounting for more than 33 hours per week despite a decline one half of one percent in time spent compared to Q4 2010. Consumers are, however, finding new ways to use their TVs.

When it comes to newly released movies, old TV shows and everything in between, consumers are increasingly turning to devices that enable them to watch streamed content on their big screen. Two-thirds of game consoles in homes are now connected to the Internet, creating a new conduit for content delivery. In fact, more than half of Netflix users watch on their TV set via a game console or over-the-top streaming device.

Consoles have become strategically positioned as a secondary gateway to TV content, and can now be found in 45 percent of TV homes, an increase of three percent over last year. With Netflix and other streaming apps, Blu-Ray players, social gaming and point of purchase seamlessly integrated into game consoles, it is no surprise that consumers are relying on their consoles to perform double (and triple) duty. The activities are adding up and contributing to the growing pie of content consumption through a gaming device.

Even though TV sets are connected to more than one box or device these days, cable, telephone-company and satellite subscriptions remain the primary ways Americans receive their TV content. Despite shifts between those three, it will take major industry changes or consumer behavior swings to affect the subscription model anytime soon. That being said, game consoles have increasingly more access to content—whether paid or free—and a greater penetration within TV homes than even the DVR, underscoring the potential audience for content providers on this platform.

Americans are creatures of habit when it comes to their video viewing. In 2011, watching traditional TV and video on a computer dipped in Q2 and Q3 months as consumers headed outside to enjoy the nice TV weather. Other types of emerging viewing–timeshifting and mobile–were not affected by seasonality; over the past two years, these platforms have seen consistent quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year growth.

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