The rise of the silver VODder
By 2023, viewers aged 50+ may watch 15
Currently, non-broadcast content, including VOD, makes up 17 per cent of the 249 minutes of content watched daily on a TV set by people in the UK.1
The change in viewing patterns has been led so far by younger viewers. As one example of the shift,
Yet this profound change in viewing patterns is less evident when considering all viewers of all ages in the UK. There has been a decline in viewing numbers. But it has been gradual.
Minutes of traditional TV, that is programmes viewed within seven days of
However, these modest year-on-year falls obscure deep variations in behaviour by age group. The historical rigidity in viewing behaviours among the over 50s, and particularly among the over 65s, has historically spared TV’s blushes by keeping overall traditional TV viewing numbers high.
This contrasts with viewing patterns among younger age groups. Between 2010 and 2017, consumption of traditional TV plummeted from 169 minutes to 100 minutes among
The depth of the divide in viewing behaviours by age cohort is unlikely to last. Over the next five
The pace of the pivot from broadcast may surprise; indeed in the first half of 2018, traditional TV viewing among
We expect that by 2023, on-demand viewing on a TV set, in all formats (subscription and broadcaster) will be 15
It is worth noting the speed with which smartphones have been adopted by older age groups. In 2012, 29 per cent of
Smartphone usage patterns among
SVOD usage patterns among older age groups are similar: power users exist but are in the minority. Average SVOD usage among 55-64 year olds in developed countries averaged eight minutes per day in Q1 2018. But this average was dragged down by the majority block of non-users. However, when isolating only SVOD subscribers in this age group, average usage was 81 minutes per day, a similar level to that in all other age groups.8
The mainstream embrace of PCs and the surging adoption of smartphones are one enabler of familiarity with
Average download speeds more than doubled between 2013 and 2017, from 18 Mbit/s to 46 Mbit/s. Speeds attained should continue to rise through 2023, as homes on a basic ADSL connection upgrade to superfast or fibre-to-the-home connections, with the latter offering gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbit/s).9
The critical benefit that faster broadband enables is offering an on-demand experience that is similar to traditional
New television sets are designed with on-demand viewing in
This experience contrasts with the early days of on-demand viewing, often initiated by a fumble with cables and apps, and occasionally disrupted by a loss of connection: it was the antithesis of zapping through linear channels. But today’s TVs enable the viewer to flick nimbly between on-demand services.
Older age groups will be nudged into on-demand viewing by their own peer group and the behaviours of younger generations in their family. The influence of children may be exaggerated by the number of young adults still living
One in four 20-34 year-olds, about 3.4 million individuals, lives in the parental home – an all-time high12. Among men, one in three lives with his parents. Some, such as the boomerang generation, have returned home, often to save for a deposit. In returning home, young people may introduce
Access to exclusive content tuned for an older audience may also drive adoption. New commissions, such as Grace and Frankie featuring Jane Fonda, updates of legacy titles such as Dynasty and library content, such as classic comedies from the 1970s may entice adoption.
Access to sports may also spur a move to on-demand viewing: Discovery has licensed streaming rights to the PGA Golf
The 55+ viewer represents a third of the population and half of all viewing. A steady migration to on-demand among older viewers would create a marked dent in national viewing numbers. In 2017, 65+ adults consumed over three times more traditional TV than
The rise of on-demand viewing among older age groups is very likely – almost inexorably, based on adoption patterns seen with other complementary disruptions, from email to e-commerce.
The challenge and opportunity to each player in the TV industry
Broadcasters should not regard on-demand (ad-funded or subscription based) as merely for younger viewers. On-demand is a convenience that viewers of all ages may like; what varies is their readiness to cope with significant changes in device, or ease of use, or user interface.
Traditional pay TV platform owners should continue to integrate on-demand capabilities into their platforms, making it
Commercial entities should also bear in mind the wealth of older age groups:
The era of the silver
1 Media nations: UK (Figure 7), Ofcom, 18 July 2018: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/116006/media-nations-2018-uk.pdf
2 Younger viewers now watch Netflix more than the BBC, says corporation, The Guardian, 28 March 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/mar/28/bbc-younger-viewers-now-watch-netflix-more-on-demand
3 Media nations: UK (Figure 10), Ofcom, 18 July 2018: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/116006/media-nations-2018-uk.pdf
6 Hi ho silver swiper, Deloitte LLP, as accessed on 29 August 2018, http://www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk/?_ga=2.134522353.1262093746.1534352878-412977467.1529667116#hi-ho-silver-swiper; source: Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, UK cut, May-Jun 2012, base: all 639 respondents aged 55-75; May-Jun 2017, base: all 1,260 respondents 55-75
8 Bingeing grows up – study highlights over-55s SVOD uptake, Television Business International, 14 March 2018, https://tbivision.com/2018/03/14/bingeing-grows-up-study-highlights-over-55s-svod-uptake/
9 Full-fibre broadband is coming to the UK... in 2023: quick speeds are only available in 4% of the country and it will cost £5bn to cover the rest, Daily Mail UK, 24 July 2018: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5984539/Full-fibre-broadband-coming-UK-2023-Quick-speeds-available-4-country.html
10 UK home broadband performance, Ofcom, 9 May 2018: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/113796/home-broadband-2017.pdf
11 The smarter smart TV, Netflix, as accessed on 29 August 2018: https://devices.netflix.com/en/recommendedtv/2018/
12 Number of young adults living with parents reaches record high, The Independent, 8 November 2017: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/young-adults-live-parents-at-home-property-buy-homeowners-housing-market-a8043891.html
13 Golf loses some of its lustre as sales decline, The Financial Times, 22 August 2014,https://www.ft.com/content/e62feadc-29e0-11e4-914f-00144feabdc0
14 Media nations : UK Figure 10), Ofcom, 18 July 2018: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/116006/media-nations-2018-uk.pdf
Summary: Over the next five years older age groups are likely to shift a significant slice of their viewing to on-demand sources. They will follow, but not equal, the trend set by the young. In this podcast the news and media journalist, Ray Snoddy OBE meets with Ed Shedd, North West Europe TMT Industry Leader, to discuss the opportunities for the TV industry to lead this migration of the Silver VODder, rather than to see their audiences taken away from them.