Young adults are taking advantage of cloud services and mobile broadband to reshape TV viewing, and that’s presenting new challenges, as well as opportunities, for telecompetitors of all stripes. The remote control going the way of the rotary dial phone is just one example that looks increasingly probable, according to a survey by Altman Vilandrie & Co. and Research Now.

Some 41% of 18-34-year-olds surveyed said they would prefer using their smartphone, tablet or computer keyboard to control their TVs. That’s just one indication of how TV viewing habits are changing radically, with younger adults leading the wave of change.

Only 1/3 of 18-34-year-olds said they watch TV during normal broadcast times on a daily basis. That’s compared to the 58% of those 35 or older that said so. Moreover, the younger viewing age group are increasingly watching TV shows using online, or OTT, services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as using mobile devices to do so.

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As a result, so-called ‘cord-shaving,’ where viewers opt to spend less on cable TV, has become more popular. Twenty percent of viewers surveyed said they spend less on cable TV than they used to. That‘s up from 15% last year.

Twenty-four percent of 18-34-year-olds said they have “seriously considered” dropping their cable service altogether because online video meets their needs. Only 3-4% of all viewers said they actually have “cut the cord” and canceled their service because of online video, however. Sixty percent of the younger age group said they watch online videos at least once a week.

“More and more, a new generation of viewers wants to watch TV and movies on their own schedule and with their own smartphones, computers and tablets,” Altman Vilandrie & Co. Director Jonathan Hurd said in a press release. Consumers are removing the shackles of the traditional primetime TV lineup and creating their own personal networks of preferred programming and viewing times.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Eleven percent of smartphone owners aged 18 to 34 watch TV shows and movies on a mobile phone daily.
  • Multitasking with laptop and desktop PCs during TV viewing is common for all age groups, while 28 percent of tablet owners’ multi-task with their tablet at least half the time while watching TV.
  • Half of 18- to 34-year-olds say they would prefer an alternate program guide, such as a screen with apps or images of available content, to a traditional TV guide.
  • Netflix is an important factor in many people’s broadband subscription and speed choices. Twenty-three percent of Netflix streaming subscribers who have broadband service said Netflix is the main reason they subscribe to broadband Internet. Twenty-two percent said they would downgrade their broadband Internet service without Netflix.

“There are clear opportunities for cable TV providers to differentiate versus online video alternatives,” Hurd commented. “While many viewers are eschewing the traditional prime time TV schedule, consumers still have strong preferences for more recent TV shows and movies. In addition, while online video brands are gaining ground in younger segments, consumers still have a clear preference for their cable operator as the provider of TV show and movie subscription services.

One such opportunity lies in more HD programming, the survey suggests. A lack of HD bothers a large majority of all viewers, including 75% of 18-24-year-olds, according to the survey results.

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