Saturday, July 15, 2006

Changing TV consumption habits

Whilst fiddling around with the settings on my home projector the other day I discovered a 'lamp hours' figure, which reflects the total number of hours the projector has been switched on (ostensibly to give you an idea of when you'll need to replace the lamp). Since almost all of my home viewing (Freeview, DVD and downloads) is via the projector, this lamp hours figures give a good indication of how much time I spend watching TV and films at home.

I bought the projector new on the 31st May 2005, which means the 341 lamp hours have been spread over 410 days, giving an average of 50 minutes viewing a day (or 5 hours 50 minutes a week). According to TV viewing measurement body BARB, UK adults consume an average of 24 hours of television a week - clearly someone else is compensating for my meager viewing habits...

More interesting would be how my 341 hours of viewing break down between live TV, downloaded TV, TV series on DVD and films on DVD. Unfortunately the projector doesn't split the lamp hours by input type, although if it did, I suspect it would breakdown something like this:

Live TV: 5%
Downloaded TV: 15%
TV series on DVD: 60%
Films on DVD: 20%

What's interesting to me is how radically different this breakdown would have looked only a few years ago (i.e. more live TV, some VCR recorded TV, less DVD, no downloaded TV) and how different it is likely to look in another few years (i.e. more downloaded TV, some PVR recorded TV, less DVD, less live TV).

Whilst live TV is unlikely to disappear from my viewing habits entirely, it is increasingly comprised of live sports coverage (the 5% figure would be even lower had we not just had the World Cup) as I turn to the web for news and time-shift everything else.

DVD, which I estimate comprises a whopping 80% of my current home viewing, seems destined for the technological scrap heap in the not too distant future (along with all other physical formats) as digital delivery becomes increasingly ubiquitous.

The biggest uncertainty is around how my viewing will ultimately divide up between PVR recorded TV and downloads. In the short-term, downloads will see the biggest increase as I don't currently own a PVR (spurning Sky+ on a point of principle and unconvinced that the current Freeview models warrant the expense - although I suspect the latter will change once the price point is right). The longer term is likely to be a mixed ecology as storage costs fall to the point where recording a whole week of TV on a PVR is affordable and P2P broadband distribution will enable me to quickly find and download any programmes I didn't record.

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