Online TV usage is growing rapidly in major European countries, according to the findings of a new study conducted by Gracenote and nScreenMedia that revealed increased usage of multiple TV sources by viewers in the U.K., Germany and Sweden.
The report, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” offered a comprehensive view of consumption behavior and attitudes towards different TV services and features in the three key markets that combined account for 31 percent of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.
Across the board, online TV has quickly become the second most popular TV source behind pay TV, with usage ranging from just under 40 percent in Germany to more than 50 percent in the U.K. and Sweden, according to Gracenote and nScreenMedia. Thirty-one percent of Swedes consider online TV to be their main TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.
Underscoring just how fast the popularity of online TV has taken hold in the markets, the companies noted that Netflix only launched in the U.K. in 2012.
Twelve years ago, most homes in the three surveyed countries relied on a single-source for TV, but today almost 50 percent of viewers there are multi-source TV households, the companies said May 15.
“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” according to Simon Adams, Gracenote chief product officer. “This new research provides the clearest, most timely snapshot of how viewers in the U.K., Germany and Sweden get the movies and TV programs they are looking for and how they discover new content,” he said in a news release announcing the study’s findings.
He added: “By understanding viewer needs, behaviors and attitudes, Gracenote is uniquely positioned to help the industry develop new products and features that maximize TV viewership and engagement – critical business priorities in today’s hotly competitive landscape.”
In comparison to the European markets studied, when it comes to the most popular TV sources, the U.S. market “more closely resembles the U.K. and Sweden than German,” Colin Dixon, nScreenMedia founder and chief analyst, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). “In the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Sweden, pay TV is the leading source followed by online TV. In Germany, however, free-to-air is by far the most popular TV source with online coming in second.”
In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being crucial tools to find content to view. Six in ten viewers, meanwhile, indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in the guides had a significant influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, the number soared to about 90 percent.
Respondents to the European survey also indicated TV show and movie descriptions that provided details about content were also factors in their tune-in decision-making. Seventy percent of U.K. viewers said the program descriptions were at least somewhat important, while 65 percent of Swedes and 57 percent of Germans thought the same thing.
Among the other themes in the report was that free-to-air TV is “gaining traction on mobile,” according to Gracenote and nScreenMedia. More free-to-air viewers are using broadcaster apps to supplement their viewing than pay TV viewers are using their operators’ “TV Everywhere” apps. More than 50 percent of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps, the companies said.
The TV remains the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries. Seventy percent of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the U.K. and Germany, although the number is lower in Sweden, at 60 percent, they said. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.
The European consumer research study was conducted in February and March, with 1,500 adult TV viewers surveyed in the U.K., Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The information was gathered from public and private sources, as well as industry interviews and other research sources, the report said.