Why Are More Consumers Watching TV on Computers?

By Sandy Drayton  | 

A new Accenture study of consumers’ media consumption habits shows a distinct rise in internet users who prefer to watch TV content on their PC. That number increased from 32% in 2016 to 42% in 2017. Those who prefer to watch TV shows on a television declined from 52% to 23% in that same time frame. We know that consumers’ TV-watching habits are continually evolving. What might explain the behavior? And what do advertisers need to keep in mind as they forge ahead with buying strategies to reach these TV-watching PC users?

TV may not always be the “default” device for entertainment
One reason consumers may be moving their TV time onto PCs is simply that a lot of screen choices now exist for viewing content. Now that more consumers own not just laptops, but smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, there’s likely to always be a device nearby that’s primed and ready for watching. Accenture’s survey also shows an increase in those who prefer to watch TV content on smartphone. That number rose from 10% in 2016 to 13% in 2017. What this point underlines for advertisers is the increasing importance of cross-screen campaigns. Some of the most successful ads in this environment are those that can seamlessly “follow the eyeballs” no matter where they end up.

Cord-cutting is becoming more popular
The second reason more consumers seem to be shifting their TV time to PCs is due to the rise of cord-cutting. The consumers who have “given up” traditional TV are migrating to streaming services that replicate the TV experience. For advertisers, the key is to include video in their campaigns thereby ensuring they are still able reach the coveted demographic whenever and wherever they happen to be watching TV content.

Convenience and personalization matter
There’s no question that the TV industry is making big strides to add digital-style features like interactivity and customization to their viewing experience. But one area where digital devices, like computers, excel is with user personalization. And best of all, those features are available when a customer signs onto a different device. For advertisers, this same expectation of personalization is becoming increasingly critical for TV campaigns. Audience-based buying is just one example of how things are evolving.

Watching TV on computers may seem like a surprising trend, but what should not be surprising is that consumers’ viewing habits will most certainly keep on changing. Today’s preference for PC viewing may soon become a preference for smartphones, and then another yet-to-be invented device after that. The point is that the actual device is becoming less important. What is important, however, is for advertisers to focus on the ad formats and techniques that ensure the best possible scale and flexibility in reaching their target audience.

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