Consumers may live in a world where streaming video from large libraries of content has become available over the Internet. The trend has boosted the success of companies such as recently crippled Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX). Streaming technology has even improved to the point that live events can be seamlessly sent via the Web to televisions and PCs. However, if American viewing plans for the London Olympics are any sign, online television has not made as many strides as some expected.
A new poll from Gallup reports:
The overwhelming majority (85%) of those who plan to watch the Olympics say they will do so “only” (47%) or “mostly” (38%) on television. Only 4% of Americans who plan to watch say they will do so only or mostly via the Internet, even though all events, including less-popular sports and events involving other countries, will be live streamed online for the first time ever.
People may have low comfort levels with media other than their television, which has been the source of Olympic programming for years. Or, past experience with bug-ridden Internet connections may have hurt the consumer’s desire to access programming though conduits other than cable or fiber.
No matter what the reason, the grand experiment by networks to move people to Internet-fed programming has failed so far. The blow to these networks is considerable. The creation of facilities to stream video and to cover events that require additional crews and production was supposed to expand viewership of the Olympics overall, which in turn would attract more and newer advertisers. Apparently, American viewing habits diehard, and that will quash the hopes of the networks, at least for this year.
Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 19 to 22, 2012, with a random sample of 1,030 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Douglas A. McIntyre