Telenor Corporate Development research project looks into what drives people to watch TV on the Web. One of our most important findings was that socializing about a U.S. TV show or a reality show on local TV is one of the driving factors for watching that particular show.
As part of Telenor Corporate Development’s Future Media Project, Mona-Hovland Jakobsen and Hanne Stine Hallingby took on a research project to find out whether TV as we know it, in its scheduled, series-based format, can survive on the Web. They aimed to study the value of scheduling and understand the allure of the series format, in order to make recommendations to Telenor Broadcast.
Jakobsen and Hallingby have been working with Telenor Broadcast for several years and through research into the different trends in media usage, they clearly see that the TV platform is undergoing change.
“Today, one of the most relevant issues for Broadcast is the survival of scheduled, episode-based TV programming on the Web. We wanted to find out whether people will relate to program scheduling online, whether they prefer the series format or if they are drawn to TV on the Web because of the option to interact digitally,” said Hallingby, Senior Advisor, Telenor Corporate Development.
People actively stream content on the Web
First, this research duo took a look at the numbers, analyzing worldwide statistics regarding online practices and TV. From this, they learned that more and more people are watching streamed video on the Internet, especially in the U.S. where legal streaming services such as Hulu are continually growing in popularity. The knowledge that people are actively streaming content on the Web served as the basis for the next step of their project.
“After looking at the quantitative data, we had a hunch that many Norwegians are actually streaming TV content from the U.S., following their schedule and watching in the series format. This served as a good starting point for the qualitative portion of our project,” explained Jakobsen, Project Manager, Telenor Corporate Development.
Specific insight into why Norwegian youth watch U.S.-series online
The next step for Jakobsen and Hallingby was to create an interview guide that focused on TV practices, media consumption and specific insight into U.S. TV-series trends among Norwegian youth, around the ages of 15-30.
“TV consumption in this age group is dominated by American TV shows, such as “Entourage” or “The Good Wife”. These types of shows make up approximately 80-90 percent of what this group is watching, and they are obviously watching these shows online,” said Jakobsen.
Before starting this study, Jakobsen and Hallingby believed that watching U.S. series online, in Norway, was more of a niche phenomenon. But upon completing their project, they now realize that in this age group, nearly everyone is doing it.
Series and scheduling are still relevant
The results of the qualitative, interview-based research showed that downloaded or streamed TV content via the PC is quite dominant. However in many cases, the streamed American content is still living side-by-side with traditional TV programming.
“In general, the statistics tell us that people are still watching TV, but when you look into this specific age group and their practices, you see that online downloading and streaming of U.S. content is becoming a greater challenge for Norwegian broadcasting,” said Hallingby.
“What we see is that the series format and scheduling is still important for this demographic, but instead of following the Norwegian schedule, they’re following the U.S. schedule. They may still discover a new show while watching Norwegian TV, but as soon as they learn how far behind that show is versus the U.S. schedule, they switch to the Web,” said Jakobsen. “But local reality shows such as Paradise Hotel are still drawing viewers from this age group to traditional TV. These typical trash TV shows are appealing to them.”
The social factor in what you watch
When trying to get to the root of what’s driving this age group to U.S. produced shows and local reality shows, the answer is clear. Hallingby and Jakobsen learned that there is a definite social factor when it comes to what people watch.
“I think that one of our most important findings was that socializing about a U.S. TV show or a reality show on local TV is one of the driving factors for watching that particular show. When this is the case, it becomes important to follow the rhythm of the TV programming, so that they can talk about that show the day after it airs,” said Hallingby.
Sharing results with Telenor Broadcast
Armed with all this information, Jakobsen and Hallingby have shared their study with Telenor Broadcast. How Broadcast will use this information remains to be seen, but the teachings from this research project are clear. Norwegian youth still want episode-based programming, but they want up-to-date shows that don’t lag behind the U.S. schedule.
“Today people have access to shows from all over the world,” said Hallingby. “They are all watching basically the same content and socializing about it. For Telenor, this study shows us the importance of making legal, current and relevant content available and easily accessible for our customers.”