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Binge Watching, Nielsen: Power to the People, Consumers are Increasingly in Charge of their Digital Video

April 29, 2015 By Finley Engineering in

The balance of power in information and entertainment markets is shifting towards consumers from technology and service providers thanks to growing ability of consumers to access content when and wherever they care to, as new research from Nielsen illustrates.

The television is still the “screen of choice” for viewing video content, notes Nielsen Research Director Tony Boyte in an April 19 post on the company blog. But device proliferation and social-media interaction is “shifting power from the provider to the people,” Boyte says.

Indicative of the greater power viewers now wield regarding how, where and when they watch, Nielsen researchers found that 63 percent of online respondents said that watching time-shifted programming better accommodates their schedules. Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) said they often binge watch — catching up with their favorite programming by watching several episodes on the same day.

Surveying over 30,000 online respondents across 60 countries, the results of the Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Survey also show that 37 percent of viewers think watching video via mobile devices is convenient. Thirty-seven percent also think that viewing video on a tablet is just as good as watching on a PC or laptop.

On the other hand, nearly half (48 percent) of Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Survey respondents said they prefer watching “live” video programming, i.e. when it’s originally broadcast or otherwise presented. Just over half (51 percent) said they think “the biggest screen is the best screen for watching video programming.”

Computers were survey respondents’ second-most preferred device for viewing video for nearly all genres of programming, and it’s the most popular device for watching short-form video (typically less than 10 minutes long). A smaller, but significant, proportion of consumers watch video content on a mobile phone or tablet, Boyte points out. But viewing on e-readers and/or gaming consoles has not yet gained traction, he says.

In addition, 21 percent said that social media tie-ins prompt them to watch more live video programming. According to Nielsen’s Boyte, social media can “increase program awareness, make the experience more enjoyable and keep viewers engaged.”

His advice on “second-screen” content is to include an interactive component to make users feel involved and deepen their connection to the program. He added that content must be fresh to maximize time spent and drive repeat visitation.

“Designers can not focus on one screen,” he says, “They need to ensure accessibility wherever users are and that the user experience is enjoyable across all devices.”