On average, digital viewers in the UK spend between two and three hours each day watching TV yet typically up to a quarter of that time is actually spent deciding what to watch. This all adds up to over 3.5 hours each week spent channel surfing – over seven days per year! Young adults (16-24 year olds) are most prone to channel surfing with one in five (20 percent) spending more than a quarter of their TV time finding something to watch as compared to one in 20 (5 percent) of over 55’s.
Despite this time investment, three quarters of digital viewers (73 percent) say they still miss programmes they would have liked to watch because they find it difficult or time consuming to find out what’s on. A further one in eight (14 per cent) say they often stumble across a great programme or series only to find they have missed the start or earlier episodes.
An abundance of choice is partly to blame. Almost half of digital viewers (45 percent) find the number of channels overwhelming and despite having upwards of 100 channels to choose from many viewers (41 percent) stick mostly to a handful of familiar channels. For one in three (34 percent) these channels are often the five main terrestrial channels (In the UK: BBC1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5).
Christine Heckart, of Connected TV at Microsoft said, “With so many digital channels to choose from as well as growing volume of digitally recorded and on-demand content it’s not surprising viewers find it difficult to decide what to watch. To get the most out of your TV service you need to be able to find what you want to watch, when you want, quickly and easily. That’s why we made search a key feature of Mediaroom, which is used by BT for its BT Vision TV service. Microsoft has been studying and refining TV search with input from consumers around the world for over nine years.”
Search on the TV works in much the same way as internet search. You enter a keyword such as a programme title or actors name and the system searches the entire programme guide together with the recordings on your DVR and on-demand library to find what you are looking for.
More than half (56 percent) of all digital viewers surveyed and one in three (69 percent) of 16-24 year olds said searching for programmes using keywords would improve or greatly improve their TV viewing experience.
James Soames, of BT Vision said, “Digital viewers struggling with the schedules of hundreds of channels are not only wasting valuable viewing time but are also paying for programmes they don’t want or need. Cannier viewers – including customers of BT Vision – know what they want, and value being able to find and watch the programmes and films that interest them with no hassle or time wasted.”