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Streaming Overtakes Live TV Among Consumer Viewing Preferences: Study

U.S. consumers are more inclined to stream entertainment from an Internet service than tune in to live TV, according to the results of a new survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

Video-streaming services such as Netflix, which are now used by more than 42% of American households, have overtaken live programming as the viewing method of choice, Deloitte’s study found. About 56% of those surveyed now stream movies and 53% stream TV shows on a monthly basis, as compared with 45% of those who prefer to watch TV programs live.

And Internet-video services are valued more highly than cable or satellite TV among consumers aged 14-25, a group Deloitte dubs “Trailing Millennials” — another worrisome indicator for the pay-TV biz. For that age group, 72% cited streaming video as one of the most valuable services versus 58% who said the same for pay TV.

Older age groups still value pay-TV more highly. For Generation X (32-48), 80% picked pay TV and 47% selected streaming among the most valuable services, while among Baby Boomers 89% cited pay TV and 43% cited streaming.

According to the survey, 25% of Trailing Millennials either cancelled their pay-TV services in the last 12 months or haven’t had one for more than a year, compared with 16% of overall respondents.

Moreover, younger viewers now more commonly watch TV shows on mobile devices or PCs — rather than on a TV set. Among Trailing Millennials, 57% of time spent watching TV programs occurs on computers, tablets and smartphones. Other age groups still mostly watch on traditional TVs (57% of time spent viewing for Leading Millennials, 70% of Gen X, 81% of Baby Boomers and 90% of those 68-plus).

The report also found that binge-watching — which Deloitte defined as watching three or more episodes in one sitting — is prevalent, with about 68% of consumers engaging in marathon viewing. Of those, 31% binge-watch at least once a week (and 42% of those aged 14-25 binge at least weekly).

Meanwhile, the vast majority of consumers — 90% of Americans — multitask while watching TV, which includes activities such as browsing the Internet, reading email and text messaging. Both millennials and Generation X (age 32-48) engage in an average of three additional activities while watching television (versus two for Baby Boomers and one for those 68 and older).

The study also found that less than one-fourth of multitasking activities are actually related to the TV program being watched. And nearly 75% of those surveyed said they tend to multitask more during TV ads than during digital ads.

Deloitte’s ninth annual “Digital Democracy Survey” was fielded by an independent research firm from Nov. 3-19, 2014, which polled 2,076 U.S. consumers online.

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