Introducing streaming video devices into the home changes viewing patterns significantly, according to one of two new studies from the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) released May 1. Smart TVs, for example, lead to more in the way of group viewing, while introduction of OTT services leads to more time spent watching TV, according to researchers from GfK Media and User Experience, which conducted the study on behalf of CRE.

OTT Video Viewer Survey
The first of the two studies – “an acceleration extension ethnography” – followed up on an initial study of video viewing and usage in 35 Chicago area households who “had been pre-identified as intending to purchase one or more new types of media technology and then were given funds to cover half the cost for these devices, including smart TVs, tablets, streaming devices (such as a Roku box or Google Chromecast device) and gaming consoles,” CRE explains.

CRE notes that “viewing patterns are still dynamic and shifting as a result of device/ecosystem churn.” According to follow-up study results:

  • Smart TVs continued to stimulate more group viewing;
  • Streaming expanded to multiple rooms in the household;
  • Those who purchased smart TVs in the first study tended to purchase or plan to purchase additional smart TVs or upgrade gaming consoles;
  • Smart TVs remained the preferred viewing screen in households that also had a streaming device;
  • The majority of households that purchased a new streaming device reported an increase in the amount of streaming consumption, either as additional total viewing time or as a replacement to live TV viewing;
  • Streaming played a role in tablet usage, but tablets were not used as primary screens– except by kids.

Ethnographic Study
The second CRE-sponsored study, “an ongoing longitudinal ethnography,” is tracking a national sample of 100 households “selected to represent a balance of urban, suburban and rural characteristics.” Running until October 2015, the research is delving into OTT viewing, group viewing and out-of-home (OOH) viewing among other topics.

Unmeasured video viewing is on the rise, according to research results. The desire to view specific content is the most common motivation for viewers to make use of OTT services. The desire, or necessity, to use a particular device or service is another.

Use of OTT service, furthermore, “frequently increases [viewers’] total viewing time,” at least initially. “Over time, the study suggests, OTT viewing could take the place of other modes,” researchers found.

According to results of the longitudinal study to date:

  • While group viewing affects attention, it does not do so in an exclusively positive or negative way;
  • With multiple screens around to distract viewers, attention fluctuates and bounces between devices unpredictably;
  • Because multiple people are in the room paying various degrees of attention to the main screen, as well as to other devices, it can be difficult to gauge exposure to content.

In addition, researchers identified three types of OOH viewing:

  • Incidental Viewing: Reliance on whatever device is on hand, generally a smartphone; typically involves short-form video commonly encountered via social media or third party sites;
  • Planned Situational Viewing: Tendency to prepare by selecting a specific device or ensuring access to content; common when travel or long waits are anticipated; frequently involves long-form content;
  • Content Motivated Viewing: Dedication to viewing regardless of location; desire to view time sensitive content; community of viewers is commonly sought for sports or special events.

Lack of Wi-Fi access and data plans “often influences viewers’ service and content choices when they’re out of the home,” according to CRE. Viewers who don’t watch video when out of the home as a rule report that they watch when they are traveling or on vacation, however.