September 16, 2007
Recent Study Focuses on Swedish Viewing Behaviors

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Pontus Bergdahi, the CEO of Swedish television measurement company MMS. Pontus, a regular reader of the C3 blog, wrote to say that his company had produced a study that might be of interest to our focus here at the Consortium. Unfortunately, the 100-pp. study is not available in English, but I got a chance to look through a summary of the findings, which revealed a few interesting trends.

For instance, the study emphasized above all else that viewers today are watching more television than ever, but it is complicated by the fact that there are a variety of new channels in which they are viewing. In a media environment which values views equally, without bias to which platform they are viewed on, the television industry is stronger than ever, then. As examples like the CBS/Jericho situation reveal, however, the system is not equipped to deal with views on video-on-demand, DVRs, online streaming, downloading or other sources equally, meaning that a viewer really does "count more" when watching on television at the regular time, than they do otherwise...Well, let me amend that: as long as they have a Nielsen box, that is.

The MMS report emphasizes that new infrastructure, new technology, and a new maturity on the part of users to use that technology has all led to this "increased consumption of moving pictures." While these reports are based on the information MMS collected, I would feel pretty confident that this coincides with what is happening in the U.S., and other studies have found similar results. See my thoughts on this somewhat related Nielsen study here.

Over at AboutTheScene, a report on MMS' studies points out that 2-of-every-5 Swedish consumers 16-30 watch downloaded television on a regular basis. In this piece, MMS' Sorosh Tavakoli is quoted as saying, "The Swedish youth will probably continue to download pirated TV shows unless attractive alternatives are offered to them."

Certainly, the need for timeshifting, along with the lack of availability for many television shows in Sweden, leads to the popularity of sites like BitTorrent for watching television, as the report points out. According to MMS, 4 percent of respondents for the study watch Heroes, even though the show doesn't air in Sweden.

The study found a substantial gender difference: first, that women watched TV communally more than men; and, second, that men 15-29 watch 13 percent less television compared to four years ago and are more predominant in consuming on new platforms.

One chart that particularly interested me from the MMS study was one that found that video consumption among respondents 31-65 found that 82 percent of the consumption reported in that demographic was for live television viewing, 7 percent recorded, 3 percent purchased content, and 3 percent downloaded content (5 percent other).

Meanwhile, among younger viewers polled (16-30), 66 percent of those responding said they watched content through television, while 12 percent mentioned downloading, 6 percent recording, 5 percent purchasing, 5 percent Web clips, 2 percent rented, and 2 percent on the cinema (2 percent other).

I haven't asked Pontus, but I'm curious where the DVR and VOD falls in relation to TV versus "recorded." Because the full study wasn't available in English, I don't know a lot of details, but I was really interested in the study asking what respondents consumed the previous day, rather than asking questions about their preferences or routines. Pontus said this was very deliberate: that they focused on yesterday's behaviors "rather than asking about habits, which many studies try to do, despite the fact that habits are very difficult to self-assess." This is an interesting point and one to keep in mind when reading the myriad "consumer behavior" studies that come out continually. Thinking through how information is gathered, the questions that were asked, and the rationale behind structuring the study is all important for understanding what can, at times, seem like a lot of conflicting data.



Hi Sam, interesting post!

It's nice to see that the results have reached your side of the Atlantics.

I'm coming to Boston at the end of October for the Video On the Net conference and it would be cool to meet up if you are in town.

Write me a line when you get the chance.



Sorosh, thanks for the note, and look forward to your stopping by while you are in the Boston area!