TV Needs To Be ‘S.M.A.R.T.’

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

It’s no secret that the way consumers watch TV content is evolving and changing.  Viacom’s new research project, TV S.M.A.R.T., provides a deep understanding of how and why TV viewing is changing around the world, as well as insight into how technological advancements are impacting consumption and engagement. During the study, we connected with more than 27,000 viewers across 32 countries. We were granted unprecedented access into their lives and TV viewing habits to arrive at a deep, immersive understanding of what drives their TV watching preferences. The findings reveal that TV is still the king of media, but it needs to be SMART — social, mobile, accessible, relevant and tailored.


Audiences love TV and TV content.

  • Consumption of traditional, measured TV continues to increase: it’s up by 1 minute globally in 2012, 7 minutes in Europe.
    • People across the globe told us that TV was a very important part of their day. It’s their “me time”, their distraction from real life, and what fills any and every moment they they feel bored.
    • Consumers are also discovering new ways of accessing content on their TV sets.
      • Connected TVs and operator-enabled services let viewers control, target and more fully enjoy the content that they love.
      • And while consumers do love time-shifting methods, we found that live TV remains by far the dominant way to access video content. And as a matter of fact, having access to time-shifting technology actually increases the time spent watching content overall.

Consumers choose their devices according to a “Hierarchy of Screens.”

  • Next to the TV set, audiences around the world use a number of additional devices to watch, ranging from PCs and laptops to tablets and mobiles as well as games consoles. Some of those devices are connected to the TV set; others are used as screens on their own.
  • We found that more opportunities to watch content on multiple devices also increases the amount of time spent viewing, and have identified a new “Hierarchy of Screens” – an order of preference by which consumers are choosing which screen to use.
  • With increasingly busy lives, they want TV to fit into their timetable, not the other way around. Whether this means missing the first 15 minutes of a show on Live TV and being able to start it late, pausing it to chat with a spouse, or series binging on episodes on Saturday to catch up, it’s all about seeing video content at times when you can be fully focused and engaged

That means TV today needs to be S.M.A.R.T.: All of this research leads to the introduction of the TV S.M.A.R.T. concept – a lens for thinking about TV, a rubric that works to align our partners, networks and programs to the young audiences of today and tomorrow. Across VIMN, we use the TV S.M.A.R.T. filter to think about the experiences we create for our audiences.

  • TV continues to be a SOCIAL experience around the world. As one respondent put it, “you need something to talk about at the office on Monday morning.” In addition, the media choices available to express the social nature of our content makes the experience more engaging and enables audiences to share their excitement with friends in far flung places.
  • TV content is consumed traditionally, but it is also more MOBILE. Portable devices give customers access to TV content when they aren’t in the comfort of their own homes – being able to watch anywhere delights them and makes what was before a dull, idle moment enjoyable. It also increases the overall time available to spend with content.
  • Content is ACCESSIBLE through the television but also on laptops and other mobile devices. Everyone knows that our young audiences are not watching only linear TV. They have grown up with the tools to consume content whenever they want it.  That’s why we give viewers easy and accessible ways to consume the Viacom content they love and we are working with a range of platforms and partners on implementing this vision.
  • It is all about RELEVANT content – it must be delivered around our consumers’ lives, whether they are 9, 19 or 29, providing variations on content appropriate to viewing behavior. With more programming options, consumers everywhere are having more difficulty navigating the universe.  At VIMN, we make it easier for them to find the content that they WILL love. The next frontier is to help viewers find the content that “is right for them’ – trusted sources (like our brands), recommendation algorithms, etc.
  • Together all of these characteristics help us to create a TAILORED TV experience. Viacom is aware of the preferences, behaviours and interests of our audience and are working to optimize content to fit screens and fit lives.


The project followed a multi-layered approach:

  • A comprehensive global overview in 32 countries with more than 20,000 respondents to answer some key questions about TV watching behavior.
  • A deeper look into six European countries (UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland) to explore in more depth TV watching behaviors, drivers and motivations, as well as engagement and frequency with various devices and access points.
  • Global qualitative ethnography across 13 countries with 70 respondents covering five continents.

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