NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Live TV Still Strong Among American Viewers

Live TV Still Strong Among American Viewers

Live TV

It's a pretty good time to be a TV viewer in today's rich and busy media and entertainment marketplace. TV has been completely redefined in every sense of the word. Cable programmers have invested over $430 billion over the past two decades to bring viewers the award-winning shows that they love, and there are more scripted programs today than there ever have been. Technology and fast broadband networks have granted people the flexibility to watch TV whenever, wherever, and however they want. This gives consumers a freedom and convenience that they didn't have before tablets or apps. But the greatest thing about today's marketplace is the choice that consumers are now afforded. What is incredibly interesting and unique about American consumers is that while many of them are taking advantage of time-shifted TV options—like DVR or on-demand—to better accommodate their schedules, many of them still choose to watch TV live. 

A new Morning Consult poll conducted this month reveals that more viewers, specifically two out of three adults, watch TV live.

Morning Consult Live TV

Notably, of the people who said they watch TV live on a regular basis, two out of three (66 percent) are most likely to watch via a pay TV service such as cable. While apps and smart TVs are clearly on the rise for many, and especially among younger generations, the majority of people still favor sitting in front of a television to catch the latest episode of their favorite show, to stay up to date on the news, or to keep up with sporting competitions. 

Morning Consult Live TV Cable Box

In fact, the poll also found that of all the programming out there, 72 percent of viewers prefer to watch the news or a TV show series live, and 55 percent prefer to watch sporting events in real-time. While today's competitive TV marketplace gives consumers an abundance of programming choices and different ways to watch whatever they want on the device, app, social media site, and time of their choosing, there are certain types of content that they will make time for to watch live, and in the traditional sense. 

Last month, 19.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the series finale of Game of Thrones the same night that it aired. That was a record even for HBO, a network that has historically produced numerous award-winning shows. And this summer, the Women's World Cup on Fox Sports is already drawing larger audiences than previous years for the tournament, according to Nielsen. Big, global sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics often bring people together for the thrilling competition that they broadcast, and it appears that this consumer preference isn't going away anytime soon.
   
Interestingly, the poll also found that 20 percent of people are watching more TV live than they did even just five years ago. 

American viewers have made it clear that they want the best of all worlds when it comes to television—be it more live viewing, apps for on the go, or time-shifted viewing—and today's technologies are giving them all of the options they could ever ask for.