Younger viewers show greater concentration when streaming VoD than when watching live TV, research from Denmark suggests, providing insight into different viewing behaviours on each platform.
According to the report, by Danish broadcaster DR, on demand platforms in Denmark are used mainly by younger viewers watching shows with engaging characters and a compelling narrative, such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.
Source: DR, 2013
When it comes to background content, however, on demand platforms are rarely used, with viewers letting the TV schedule decide for them. For younger audiences, content watched as live broadcast is generally given less attention than content watched on demand.
This highlights a key difference in the perceptions younger people have of content on live TV and content on demand.
The content watched on VoD platforms is generally of high production value, with an engrossing story which commands the viewer’s attention. VoD platforms allow viewers to watch watch engrossing content at a time when they are most likely to be engaged. Research from Arkena supports this, showing that across Scandinavia the ability to choose what to watch and when is the main attraction of on demand services.
By contrast, the shows watched on live TV are generally long-running comedies and soap operas with simple narratives and established characters. Shows such as Friends and The Simpsons are often aired throughout the early evening, providing a backdrop of familiarity and comfort to an audience looking to unwind as they get in from work and prepare dinner.
This mirrors trends we have seen in the UK with BBC iPlayer, where VoD engagement peaks later into the evening.
Sources: BBC iStats, 2014; BARB, 2014; Nielsen, 2012
Differences between the live TV and VoD experience may also influence perceptions of content. Many VoD platforms do not encourage a background viewing experience. Research from Thinkbox shows that VoD platforms are not as well suited to unwinding and comfort watching as live TV.
VoD platforms often require the user to make an active decision of what to watch. Similar to the IKEA-effect*, by actively choosing what to watch, the viewer invests a part of themselves into the experience. In order to validate this investment, the viewer may feel more committed to the content. As a result, they see what they are watching as more valuable and give it a greater level of attention.
While VoD can currently be seen as the destination for more engaging content, this may change as streaming services become more aligned with traditional TV. As content becomes less siloed, the boundaries between on demand and live broadcast become blurred. As a result, on demand may increasingly be used to provide background viewing.
*A study found that investing time and energy into assembling flat-pack furniture increased its value to the owner who had assembled it.