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Consumer Survey Clarifies US TV Viewing Habits

ABI Research conducted an online survey of 1002 consumers in December, 2007, aimed at discovering how US residents view their service providers, what technologies and programming they use, and their price sensitivity towards available service offerings. The details of this revealing survey are contained in a free white paper which can be downloaded from the firm’s website.

The TV viewing habits of American consumers can be baffling, yet service providers and equipment vendors are betting billions of dollars on how viewers will embrace triple/quadruple play services and demand IPTV.

“Americans do a lot of time-shifting with PVRs, and a lot of gaming, and plenty of people have installed home theaters,” reports ABI Research vice president Scan Schatt. “They are likely to consume a lot more video over the next several years.”

The survey found, among other things, that:

  • 38% of respondents had home theater systems or game consoles attached to their televisions; nearly as many used DVRs, and only a few used network media adaptors or the Slingbox.
  • More than 25% of respondents chose their pay-TV service provider on price. Convenience and promotional offers accounted for nearly as many, but programming quality and customer service mattered for only 15-20%.
  • Mobile TV appealed to only 6%. More than one third of respondents would not pay for any of the common add-on services. “We asked respondents if they’d be willing to watch ads in exchange for reduced or zero fees for premium content,” says Schatt. “There was little uptake on the reduced price option, but more for the free option.”

Consumers also revealed a surprising ignorance about their systems. Many were unaware of what their equipment can actually do.

Further results showed that:

  • At 65%, news clips are by far the most popular form of online video content, followed by movie trailers and user-generated content (about 43% each).
  • Only a few percent use pay-per-view services to watch movies more than once a week, with about 53% doing so only a few times a year.
  • About 40% said they owned at least one High Definition TV, but fewer than half of those are paying for HD premium service packages. This suggests more customer education is needed, and that there is a lot of unrealized revenue still out there for the taking.

Download the white paper here: “Pay-TV and the American Consumer” (

ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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