TV Everywhere apps still building an audience

Thursday 19 March 2015 | 15:55 CET | Background

More and more TV providers and broadcasters are introducing apps for customers to watch live TV. Access is often free with a subscription to a TV and internet package, allowing customers to watch the same channels on a smartphone or tablet as they receive at home on the TV. According to research by Telecompaper in December 2014, around a third of TV subscribers actually use these apps. 

Most people still prefer to watch live TV on a big screen, often with other people, rather than on an app on a mobile device. Much of the live TV they watch is also on in the evening - not when they are in the train or away from home and may consider watching on a mobile device. These were some of the reasons TV services for mobile phones attracted few subscribers in the past. 

Furthermore, it's only recently that the main Dutch providers opened up their live TV apps for use outside the home. When first introduced, the apps were limited to use on the home broadband network. KPN and Ziggo extended use of their apps outside the home in April, while UPC has allowed this since July 2014. 

Provider apps used more

Two-thirds of TV subscribers don't use the live TV apps from their TV providers, according to the survey by the Telecompaper Consumer Panel of 20-80 year-olds in December. Seventy percent said they don't use live TV apps from broadcasters either. 

Currently, only the Dutch public broadcaster NPO and regional channels offer live TV on their apps. The commercial broadcasters RTL and SBS do not allow this. While other means exist to watch the commercial channels (FilmOn Live, Live TV), these are less well-known. The broadcasters' own apps also provide the most complete overview of the content and have an established public for catch-up services. 

Previous research by Telecompaper found that 79 percent of the Dutch would consider canceling their TV subscription if the main broadcasters (NPO, RTL, SBS) offered an app for smart TVs. This suggests again that people prefer watching on a 'normal' TV and don't want to rely on a mobile device.

Over-50s use apps the least

The age group 50-65 was the most likely to have never used their TV providers' live TV apps, at 72 percent. The 40-49 year-olds were the most likely to have used the apps, at 40 percent. This is likely due to the fact that the younger age group is more likely to have smartphones and tablets. As seen earlier, usage is still lower for the broadcasters' also when split by age: three-quarters of 50-64 year-olds have never used these apps, compared to 63 percent of 20-29 year-olds. 


Over-40s prefer provider apps

The provider apps are also used more often than broadcasters' apps, an average 26 days per year versus 18 days. Among 40-49 year-olds, provider apps are used a higher 32 days a year on average, while broadcaster apps are used the same as the market average, at 18 days. 

Those in their 40s use the provider apps more 1) because they are more familiar with mobile devices (compared to over-50s) and 2) because there is a higher penetration of multi-play packages in this age group (compared to under-40s).

People under the age of 40 used the broadcaster apps more. This may be due to fewer young people having a TV subscription. Other research by Telecompaper in the same period found that the older a person is, the more likely they are to have a TV subscription; 93 percent of 20-29 year-olds subscribe to a TV service compared to 100 percent of over-50s. Without a subscription, they can't access the provider's app, so young people are 'forced' to seek out OTT alternatives. Younger people under the age of 30 are also more likely to say they would cancel their TV subscription in favour of OTT services.

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