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Netflix and Cable Are Battling It out for Millennials' Attention

On-demand video services are the latest and greatest thing in video content viewing. In fact, consumers are spending more of their time viewing content at their own leisure, as opposed to watching TV live.

A new study from entertainment market research firm HUB Research found 61 percent of U.S. millennials' time watching TV was timeshifted, or spent viewing content and videos at a time that was most beneficial to them. Conversely, just 39 percent spent time viewing live content. 

Timeshifted viewing versus live viewing was nearly split down the middle with the general population. More specifically, 53 percent of the general population spent time watching TV at their own leisure while 47 percent of TV viewers watched TV and video during its scheduled time slot.

Netflix and cable fighting for market share

As OTT content continues to grow in market popularity, cable companies have had to adjust how they deliver video content. While streaming on-demand content and timeshifting is continuing to gain market share, a recent industry study found that OTT content and cable TV had a relatively equal share of viewers' attention and commitment. 

According to Millward Brown Digital, both cable TV and Netflix were used by 53 percent and 51 percent of millennial respondents, respectively, in 2014. Both were second and third choice behind YouTube, which 72 percent of millennial respondents used to watch TV or digital video content on smartphones and tablets. Gen X and baby boomers both viewed cable TV the most at 61 and 65 percent, respectively. Netflix was viewed by 38 percent of those aged between 35 and 50, while just 26 percent of baby boomers watched Netflix from a smartphone or tablet device.

Timeshifting growing in popularity

The timeshifting trend is taking hold of millennial TV and digital content viewers for a number of reasons. Consumers can watch the shows they want, when they choose and now do so from nearly any digital device. Millennial culture is now, in a way, an on-demand demographic. In fact, 42 percent of HUB respondents said they prefer watching episodes of a current season via timeshifting, as opposed to just 28 percent of those who would rather watch live TV. 

"61 percent of U.S. millennials' time watching TV was timeshifted."

The means by which millennials time shift is mostly done through an on-demand type of provider. HUB also found 34 percent of timeshifting is done through a DVR and 19 percent is done though video on demand. 

Certainly, the convenience and lack of commitment to a TV schedule is a primary reason why timeshifting is so popular among millennials. However, there are other benefits. In fact, 37 percent of HUB respondents said the ability to skip ads is at least one benefit of timeshifting TV viewing. It makes sense then that nearly half of VOD viewers fast-forward through every commercial. Another 56 percent skip every commercial when they're watching content from a DVR. 

Cable's on-demand content and Netflix's OTT content are both battling for market share, but one thing remains clear: Timeshifting is a current market trend, and both providers need to work to meet consumer demand in this capacity. 

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