DStv Premium customers now get Showmax at no charge. Announcing this subscriber windfall, Mark Rayner, CEO of South Africa, admitted that “more and more customers are telling us they love to binge-watch box sets on DStv Catch Up and Showmax. It’s the way the world is moving…”
On a personal note, I am trying to work out how we could magic up some additional time to accommodate more video viewing.
I am clearly not alone in this concern over viewing time. Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, released its annual Communications Market Report 2017 last month, with the claim that the UK has become a nation of binge viewers. Eighty percent of UK adults now use either catch-up technology or subscription services such as Netflix, to watch multiple episodes of a series in one sitting.
But almost a third of adults confessed that they paid the price for succumbing to the temptation of watching that additional episode: lost sleep left them feeling tired.
Not surprisingly, therefore, 35% of these binge viewers, claim to be trying to cut down their viewing. With the young adults (16-24) predictably being more susceptible to this vice, the proportion of bingers attempting to curb this habit, rises to almost 50%. Bingers are tackling the problem with varied strategies: Some simply try to ration their viewing while others are attempting to find an alternative hobby. At the extreme end of the spectrum a few people have gone so far as to cancel their TV subscriptions.
Apparently many viewers say they do not set out to binge, but the lure of the next episode is irresistible: Nearly three quarters of adults admit to sometimes watching more than they originally intended to. Close to a fifth of adults, state that they always watch multiple episodes of their favourite shows in one go. Over half (55%) indulge themselves monthly, while 35% succumb on a weekly basis.
Most bingers claim that it is relaxing and enjoyable, whilst almost a quarter rationalise it as an opportunity to discuss programming with friends. Fear is a key motivator for 25% of bingers: Someone might spoil a programme’s ending! This creates pressure to keep up with family and friends’ viewing.
Mature sector circumspect
As one might expect, 12-15 year olds are far more prone to the habit of bingeing: over half of this age group indulge themselves on a weekly basis. By contrast, only 16% of the 65+ generation do so, preferring the more sedate and traditional deferred pleasure of watching weekly episodes. In fact, this mature sector is quite circumspect in their viewing habits, not even claiming to watch TV every day. At the other end of the age spectrum, one in 10 16-24 year olds watch TV on a daily basis.
UK viewers are enjoying the benefits of being able to watch TV wherever they like: Over a third of viewers watch out of home. Nearly a quarter have watched on holiday, 16% watch while commuting and 7% augment their pub expeditions with a bit of telly.
Despite the many articles that warn that keeping a television, smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer in the bedroom makes it harder for one to sleep soundly, over half of the population watch TV in the bedroom. Others pursue the habit in the kitchen (16%), in the garden (9%) or more extremely, in the bathroom (9%)!
One of the predictions about the current multiscreen era, is that every viewer will be able to pursue his, or her particular programme predilections. Indeed, in the UK, it would seem that many people engage in TV viewing as a solitary pursuit. 40% of adults state that they watch TV by themselves every day, and over a week, this rises to 90%. A particularly dystopian picture of family life emerges with a third of people claiming that they sit with their families, but individually watch different programmes on separate screens!
Live TV undeniably popular
Fortunately, this is counterbalanced by the majority of people (70%) continuing to believe that TV brings the whole family together for a shared viewing experience. Just under a third of adults claim that their families watch the same programmes or films together every day. This rises to 70% over a full week.
Live TV remains undeniably popular, with 90% of the population watching it on a weekly basis. Of course, viewing habits vary by generation. The youngsters are keen on the benefits of streaming services such as Amazon Prime. In fact, three quarters of 16-24 year olds use subscription streaming services, versus 20% of the over 65 contingent. In fact, nearly 60% of this mature group actually prefer watching their series in weekly instalments.
While technology offers have provided revolutionary ways to watch TV, it is clear that established habits die hard. Of course, locally we lag the UK by about a decade in terms of media evolution.
The first six month’s release of Establishment Survey (ES) data shows that South Africans remain resolutely committed to live viewing, with nine out of 10 having watched live TV in the past week. Over this period, only 6.4% watched via Catch Up, 8.7% watched recorded TV, 12% watched DVD box sets and a mere 1.9% viewed online. Time and hopefully lower data costs, will eventually change this picture.