Time-shift technology does not cut TV watching time

Time-shift technology in Television, may not reduce the number of time people spend watching live TV, suggests new research. The findings, published in the journal Management Science, showed that people with a time-shift TV watched slightly more TV overall than they did before having the technology; they did not watch less live TV. Advertisers have been concerned that using time-shift TV would decrease the amount of time people spend watching live TV, which would reduce their exposure to ads.

For the study, the researchers from Carnegie Melon University used a randomised control trial that involved cable customers from more than 50,000 households.  Some of the households were given premium TV channels, which included popular movies and shows without commercial breaks, for six weeks. In some of those households, consumers were also given access to time-shift TV, which allowed the researchers to observe the effect of the technology on consumers’ consumption of TV.

The study found that on average, having access to the premium channels with time-shift TV increased households’ total consumption of TV through viewership of both live and recorded programmes. Having time-shift technology did not change the number of time consumers viewed live TV but boosted the concentration of total TV viewership because viewers used the technology disproportionately more to watch popular programmes. The study also found that time-shift TV was used more frequently for watching TV programmes and movies, and not as frequently for watching sports and news. The technology did not change the consumers’ behaviour towards watching advertisements when they watched the original TV channels live, suggesting that consumers did not use the technology to strategically avoid advertisements, the results showed.