Grim Future for Ad-Supported, Appointment TV: Oliver Wyman Research Details Extent of Threat
* 85% of DVR owners skip three-quarters of all commercials
* Internet-ready HDTV will allow viewers to cherry-pick shows rather than having to buy bundles
* Most viewers are not willing to watch advertising even when it underwrites free content, and they donâ€™t want to pay to remove advertising
August 4, 2008 - Appointment TV -- tuning in at specific times to watch scheduled shows -- is no longer the norm for many viewers, and that presents a threat to the value of ad-supported programming, according to new consumer research by Oliver Wyman.
Oliver Wyman recently surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in the United States, Europe, and Asia to understand how their TV viewing behavior was changing in the face of new technologies and devices, greater content availability, and new distribution channels.
Device-assisted ad-skipping is widespread. One-quarter of consumers surveyed own a digital video recorder (DVR), with another 20% planning to purchase in 2008. As many as 85% of those viewers skip 75% or more of commercials. Only 5% did not skip any ads.
Ad-skipping is likely to increase, as DVRs flood the mass market thanks to plummeting prices and increased bundling from pay-TV operators seeking a competitive advantage. In fact, the ability to skip commercials is the second most important factor, just behind convenience, prompting users to watch shows on their DVRs, the Oliver Wyman survey found.
Usage of all "non-linear" formats, such as Internet, DVDs, and video on demand, in addition to DVRs, accounts currently for one-third of mass-market TV viewing, but as much as 57% for "early adopters," those future-defining viewers who have a greater propensity to use leading-edge products and services.
John Senior, a partner in Oliver Wyman's Media and Entertainment practice, said: "With such prevalent ad skipping and format substitution, prices for ads will inevitably decline, as advertisers question the value of traditional TV commercials and reallocate their marketing spend to new channels with better targeting and measurement capabilities."
HD will rapidly become table stakes: One-quarter of survey respondents say they own HD TVs; of those who do not, 19% are likely to purchase one in 2009. The introduction of Internet-ready HD TVs in the next few years presents a major threat of disintermediation for TV operators (cable, satellite, and telecom companies), as consumers will be able to access high-quality online video directly through their HD TVs.
In addition, two-thirds of TV viewers reported they would not be willing to watch any advertisements at the beginning of a program in order to watch uninterrupted, and 85% stated that they would not be willing to pay anything to remove all commercials.
In the coming years, consumers will have unprecedented power to choose how they view content. To remain competitive under these conditions, Senior said, content owners, device manufacturers, and pay-TV operators will need to reexamine every component of their business modelsâ€"from which products and services they offer to how they control their relationships with consumers.
"Given the explosion in content and the frustration many viewers express in being able to find something to watch, a superior search-and-discovery experience offers one of the biggest opportunities for delivering value to customers," he said.
About Oliver Wyman
With more than 2,900 professionals in over 40 cities around the globe, Oliver Wyman is the leading management consulting firm that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, organizational transformation, and leadership development. Oliver Wymanâ€™s Media & Entertainment practice provides growth strategy, product and marketing optimization, operational performance improvement, and M&A support services for film/TV studios, cable operators, telcos, ISPs and web publishers, TV networks and pay-TV providers, entertainment resorts, newspaper and magazine publishers, and private equity firms. Oliver Wyman is part of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com.