Young TV Viewers Prefer Web Over DVRs

The percentage of Americans watching TV shows online has doubled since 2006.
The Web is a growing destination for watching television shows among younger TV watchers, who are more apt to head online than use a digital video recorder, a study released Friday showed.

A November survey of 1,200 Americans aged 12 and older found that people from 18 to 34 years old are already living in a post-DVR world, Solutions Research Group said. While 70% had watched TV online, only 36% had ever viewed a show on a DVR or TiVo, which enables people to record shows for viewing later.

More TV viewers overall are heading to the Web to watch online video legally or through peer-to-peer networks, the research and consulting firm said. The survey found that 50% of the respondents had watched a TV show online, double the percentage found in a similar survey in 2006.

Video site Hulu has significantly increased its awareness among online video watchers, with 24% of the survey respondents saying they had heard of the site, SRG said. The Hulu audience skews young and male with an average age of 33 and two-thirds of the visitors are men.

Fifteen percent of online Americans had visited the Web site of one of the major networks over the prior 30 days specifically to watch a TV show, the survey showed. Among those viewers, 54% were female and the average age was 39, which is much closer to the broader Internet audience.

In general, online TV audiences were happier with the viewing experience than they were a year ago, with 46% rating the experience excellent, the survey found. That's seven percentage points higher than in 2007.

Among the top network shows for online viewing were Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, The Office, and House. Outside of YouTube, the "top-of-mind" destinations for video, TV shows, and movies were ABC, Yahoo, NBC, Hulu, MySpace, and CBS, each receiving more than 5% in mentions from survey respondents.

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Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer