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CEE and MEA viewers turn to multiscreen, linear viewing remains strong

Interest in multiscreen viewing is increasing across the emerging markets of central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA). However, viewers are still primarily interested in the TV experience, according to a survey of viewing habits in the region by Discovery.

Across CEEMEA, 52% of viewers have watched live television online in the last six months, with the proportion being highest in Romania, with 64%, and lowest in Hungary, with 27%.

Caleb Weinstein, senior vice-president, distribution, Discovery Networks EMEA, told DTVE that the broadcaster had focused on markets where strong broadband penetration was growing in tandem with pay TV. He said Discovery was curious to find out if viewing habits were changing more quickly than in mature pay TV markets. “But what we found was that TV still has a dominant place in the home and is certainly not being replaced by new devices, but is being complemented by multiscreen,” he said.

On-demand viewing is slightly less common except for young and early adopters, with 40% of viewers using services. In the Czech Republic, 51% of viewers aged 18-30 have watched TV on demand online, a figure that falls to 24% for those aged 45 and over. In South Africa, the figures for each age group are 43% and 18% respectively.

Across the CEEMEA region, the UAE leads the way in catch-up viewing, with 55% having watched a catch-up programme online in the last six months, followed by Russia with 52%.

Use of second screen devices is at an earlier stage across the region, with 12% of viewers watching live TV on second screen devise and 11% watching on-demand TV. The Middle East is more advanced in this respect than central and eastern Europe, with over a third of Turkish tablet owners and 28% of UAE tablet users having watched live TV on their devices. Sixty-eight per cent of second screen users across the region said they looked up information online about programmes while watching them, with 34% discussing programmes on social networks. The survey distinguished between second screen ‘tourists’ who skip between a wider variety or programmes than previously was the case, and ‘enthusiasts’ who accessed additional content online. Romanians were most enthusiastic about watching TV clips on mobile phones, with 51% doing so.

Most viewers across the region said they found it difficult to choose which programmes to watch and a majority were interested in services that recommend shows based on viewing history.

Weinstein said that Discovery wanted to work with its partners to figure out how best to shape the on-demand proposition and to find out what consumers wanted. “We want to work with partners to find out what the on-demand proposition is. All these guys are working on on-demand platforms and the question we have is what content are people looking for – catch-up or curated content or archive box-set programming? Are they doing binge-viewing?” He said that the survey had shown that traditional linear viewing – whether on TV or online – still had wide appeal. “We are still seeing a large amount of traditional linear viewing and on-demand is not as big as we though,” he said.

Discovery, in partnership with The Future Foundation, surveyed 5,000 TV viewers across Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine and the UAE.