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Consumers Want Internet TV at Home, for Free

The Olswang Convergence Consumer Survey 2006 has revealed that rights holders and service providers are facing new challenges in the battle for consumer attention and control of the living room. In the digital age, consumers want choice and control but for providers, the biggest hurdle is to overcome consumers' unwillingness to pay for content.

Consumers are now demonstrating a clear preference for full-length feature films and TV programs over shorter clips and trailers as their content of choice for the PC. Nearly 40 percent of UK consumers are already streaming or downloading audio-visual content onto computers at home and nearly half of these are doing so in the living room.

While this may suggest a potentially lucrative new market for rights holders and service providers, the downside is that UK consumers appear unwilling to pay to receive content on their home PC, with 1 in 2 not prepared to pay 'anything extra' for streamed/downloaded content and a further 40 percent not willing to pay more than 5 pounds per month.

Now in its second year, the independent survey of 1,500 13-55 year old UK consumers discovered that, although home computers are often used in the study or bedroom as a replacement television set, 49 percent of those consumers who are watching streamed or downloaded content are doing so on a computer in the living room, which is now by far the most popular location for this activity. In order to engage in the battle for dominance of the living room, companies need to adapt their services to take account of this behavior.

The principal reason revealed by the Survey as to why the remaining consumers are not streaming or downloading content is because they are happy watching television "the way it is" and from a comfortable chair. These consumers still need to be educated that content which arrives on a computer is now compatible with this traditional style of "lean back" television.

New devices which will allow consumers to shift content from the computer to the main television set after it has been downloaded or while it is being streamed, such as Apple's recently announced "iTV" device, should help to bridge this gap.

However, a major discovery from the 2005 survey was that 70 percent of respondents did not want to watch TV on a mobile phone. Despite the launch of a range of mobile TV services in the last 12 months and despite the mobile phone remaining respondents' 'favorite device,' UK consumers remain uninterested in using their mobile phones to view audio-visual content.

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