How much do viewers value television?

Our latest study on media consumption, TV Matters, aimed to answer this question by taking TV away from some participants. To really explore the power of television, we asked people to live without it for 5 days – meaning no pay TV or cable packages, no free-to-air broadcast channels, no TV on demand, no TV Everywhere apps, and no DVR access. Respondents were allowed to use SVOD (subscription video on demand services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu).

Here’s a summary of what we learned:

When people didn’t have access to TV, its importance in their lives quickly became clear. For some, the mere idea of giving up TV was too much – half of those we approached refused to participate. And for those who did take part in the study, 9 out of 10 said they would never do it again!

Living without TV made participants feel deprived in three key areas:

  • They felt disconnected from what was happening in the culture. TV naturally generates cultural connections by addressing mass audiences with unified messages. Without TV, respondents felt cut off from the world and unable to participate meaningfully in conversations. Consumers really want to be part of something, and without TV they felt they were missing out.
  • The easy household bonding moments that TV creates were harder to come by. Cultural, social and technological forces have made us all busier – and that in turn can make it difficult to spend quality time with others. TV is often at the heart of the household, offering an effortless and pleasurable way to be with those who are closest to us. SVOD services require more work to decide what to watch, which can lead to disagreements and choice paralysis. In contrast, TV’s curated and scheduled content takes pressure off viewers.
  • They missed the sense of personal relaxation that TV provides. In an “always-on” world, TV gives consumers a welcome refuge from the stresses of the day – an ever-ready way to be entertained, laugh and pass the time. Without it, our participants missed the feelings of comfort and companionship that come with an effortless night of TV viewing.