Close to 16 percent of American households who use the internet watch television broadcasts online, The Conference Board and TNS report today. The number of consumers viewing entire episodes/shows on the internet has doubled from a year ago.
"Although online television viewing is still not a widespread phenomenon, the proportion of users has increased since 2006 and is likely to increase over time, given consumers' love for entertainment," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
Nearly 73 percent of online households use the internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis and an additional 15 percent search for entertainment several times a week.
Online viewers cite personal convenience and avoiding commercials as their top two reasons for watching TV broadcasts on the Internet.
Four out of every five online viewers say that watching these programs online has not changed their television viewing habits, but a small percentage claim that their traditional television viewing has decreased.
Watching TV has replaced news as the most widely viewed content online more than three out of five online TV viewers cite personal convenience as the major reason for watching TV broadcasts online.
More than a third chooses online viewing in order to avoid watching television commercials. Other reasons cited include portability and a preference for computer viewing.
Says Franco: "One reason that personal convenience is the top reason for online viewing is that much of the same content available for television viewers is also available online." Online users catching up on missed content have increased to 42 percent from 30 percent a year ago.
Consumers viewing entire episodes on the internet have doubled, and now approximately half watch their favorite shows online. This has replaced the news as the most widely viewed content online. Other online viewing preferences include sports, entertainment, previews and additional content.
"Over the next few years, the growing popularity of viewing TV episodes/shows online is going to have a huge impact on the way brands and advertisers communicate with viewers," says Shari Morwood, E.V.P. of Technology, Telecommunications and Media at TNS.
"If advertisers can effectively leverage the online video platform, we should see much more interactivity and emotional connection between brands and the online TV viewing audience. On a broader scale, we will also see changes in viewing preferences, including TV on mobile devices, as media, telecom, and technology increasingly converge."
The top methods for viewing broadcasts online are streaming and free downloading. Consumers also enroll in pay per download and subscription services, though this is much less prevalent. About two-thirds of viewers stream online content, and more than 40 percent download content for free.