Viewers Indicate Higher Tolerance for Advertising Messaging while Watching Online TV Episodes

Comscore Releases Results of Study of U.S. Online TV Viewership Presented by Tania Yuki at ARF Re:think Conference in New York

Reston, VA, April 1, 2010 - Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released the results of a study of the attitudes and behavior of cross-platform TV content viewers, which was originally presented by Tania Yuki at the ARF Re:think conference on March 23, 2010. The study, based on a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. Internet users who watch originally scripted TV content, grouped viewers into three segments: TV-only viewers (65 percent), cross-platform (i.e. TV + online) viewers (29 percent) and online-only viewers (6 percent), to analyze differences in viewing of originally scripted TV programming. A complementary white paper summarizing the complete results of the study will be available for download in the coming weeks.

Online TV Viewers Receptive to Ads

In order to determine viewer receptivity to advertising when watching TV shows online, respondents were asked a battery of questions regarding their advertising tolerance. The questions were designed to assess the levels of advertising (based on one minute increments from 0-15 minutes) viewers would tolerate when watching one hour of TV programming on the Internet. The results indicated that online advertising’s “sweet spot” is between 6 and 7 minutes per hour, substantially higher than the approximately 4 minutes per hour that is currently consumed by ads delivered online as part of TV content.

“As cross-platform TV viewing becomes more widely adopted, it is important to understand the driving forces behind this shift in consumer behavior if we are to effectively monetize this emerging medium,” said Tania Yuki, Comscore director of online video and cross-platform product. “While some analysts have suggested that the shift to online video reflects a consumer desire to view fewer ads, our research suggests that in many cases online TV viewers actually have a higher tolerance for advertising messages than they are currently receiving. This finding, of course, suggests there’s advertising revenue being left on the table and that media companies have not yet extracted full value out of the online medium.”

Motivations for Online TV Viewing

When cross-platform viewers were asked about their motivations for consuming a portion of their TV content online, freedom in time and space emerged as primary motivators. 75 percent of these viewers selected “online” over “TV” because they were able to watch the show wherever they wanted, while 74 percent selected online because they were able to watch the show on their own time. They also preferred online TV viewing for the ability to stop and play shows when they wanted (70 percent) and less interference from commercials (67 percent). TV fared substantially better than online for sound and picture quality.

Cross-Platform TV Viewer Media Preferences
Q: “For each attribute below, please select whether Online or TV is better.”
December 2009
Total U.S., Cross-Platform TV Viewers, n=535
Source: Comscore, Inc.
Response Share of Cross-Platform Viewers
Online TV
Watch the show wherever I want 75% 25%
Watch the show on my own time 74% 24%
Ability to stop and play show when I want 70% 30%
Less interference from commercials 67% 33%
Overall convenience 61% 39%
Overall viewing experience 32% 68%
View show as soon as it's released 31% 69%
Sound quality 28% 72%
Picture quality 25% 75%

When asked specifically why they watched TV episodes online, the most frequently cited reason among cross-platform viewers was that they had missed an episode on TV (71 percent), followed by convenience (57 percent) and fewer ads (38 percent).

TV Viewing Differences by Age Segment

Time shifting of TV viewing is most prevalent among younger TV viewers, with only 35 percent of viewers age 18-24 indicating they watched episodes live, 42 percent saying they watched the programming at a different time within one week of the original air date and 23 percent saying that they watched more than one week after the original air date. 25-34 year olds exhibited fairly similar time-shifting behavior to 18-24 year olds, while older age segments exhibited the least amount of time-shifting behavior.

TV Time-Shifting by Age Segment
December 2009
Total U.S., TV Viewers, n=1,825
Source: Comscore, Inc.
Age Segment Share of Viewers
Watch Live Non-Live Viewing
Same Day Time Shifted - 3 Days After Airing 4-7 Days After Airing More than 7 Days After Airing
18-24 Year Olds 35% 22% 20% 23%
25-34 Year Olds 35% 23% 24% 18%
35-49 Year Olds 46% 21% 17% 16%
50-64 Year Olds 55% 16% 17% 11%
65+ Year Olds 57% 16% 14% 13%

Younger TV viewers are also more likely to watch TV across media with 54 percent of cross-platform viewers being under the age of 35 compared to just 30 percent of TV-only viewers.

About Comscore
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Bill Daddi
Daddi Brand Communications