A generation or so ago, watching television involved sitting in front of a square box and manually flipping through a dozen channels. Many households had a single set, which could create contention as family members competed to see who got to choose the program.
Obviously, the current situation is much different and recent research shows viewing habits and options vary by gender, age and even race. The data also reveals people are watching television in many ways by taking advantage of new technologies like CenturyLink’s Prism system.
Why people watch
An October 2015 study conducted by Triton Digital found sports edged out news in the Phoenix area as the primary reason people watch live (unrecorded) TV, 28 percent to 24 percent. Two-thirds of the survey respondents were men, however, so that might have skewed the results. Twenty percent said weekly primetime shows and sitcoms were their preferred fare, while 17 percent listed movies as their top choice and 8 percent picked reality shows.
In this area, watching shows on a television is still the dominant choice with 86 percent naming that viewing option. Another 6 percent said they watch programs on a smartphone and an equal number said an iPad or tablet is their preferred choice. In comparison, a 2013 national survey by Leichtman Research Group found that 27 percent of adults watch television on a non-TV device daily.
Television viewing also remains predominantly a family affair locally, with 61 percent of the survey participants saying they prefer to watch shows with their family. Thirty-eight percent said they usually watch alone.
Women versus men
On the issue of gender, Nielsen’s research showed women watch television almost 40 minutes more each day than men — four hours and 11 minutes for women; 3 hours and 34 minutes for men. Men, however, spend 48 minutes a day using a gaming console on the television, compared to 22 minutes for women.
Saved for later
The Phoenix study revealed that 32 percent of viewers recorded primetime shows and sitcoms. Another 28 percent recorded movies – slightly more than the 23 percent who recorded sports. Just 9 percent mentioned recording reality shows and 6 percent taped news for later viewing.
Technology and on-demand options are changing the way children watch television. Smarty Pants, a research firm focused on children and families, reported children see no difference between surfing channels on TV or surfing for content on a streaming site like YouTube or Hulu.
The common theme throughout these findings is people are utilizing a range of options for viewing traditional television programs. In coming years, the expansion of new technologies like CenturyLink’s PrismTV mean people will have even more opportunities to control when and how they allocate their television viewing time.