Old TV, Interweb TV, and…You (Us?)

We hold this truth to be self-evident. The only thing truly debatable here, it seems to us, is the use in the title below of the word “Soon:”


As Online Viewing Soars, Internet TV Will Soon Be the Only TV

More people are watching TV online than ever—a lot more. Viewers may not be cutting the cable cord altogether, but growth in the number who want to watch TV over a different set of pipes is surging, according to a new report from Adobe. If anyone was still wondering why HBO and CBS plan to offer an online-only option, the trend is clear: the internet is where people want to watch. In more and more homes, online TV isn’t a geeky novelty, a sidelight to the traditional version. It’s just what TV looks like now.

Adobe is in a position to know because its software runs the platform that nearly all US cable customers use to log into the online versions of their subscriptions, according to the company. Researchers tracked 165 online video views and 1.53 billion logins over a year, and they found that total TV viewing over the internet grew by 388 percent in mid-2014 compared to the same time a year earlier—a near-quintupling. And the increase is more than just a few diehards binge-watching: the number of unique viewers well more than doubled, growing 146 percent year-over-year.

According to analyst Tamara Gaffney, three factors are drove this growth: more apps and sites for watching, more content to watch on those apps and sites, and the World Cup. Sports act as as kind of “appetizer” whetting viewers’ appetites for the flexibility and breadth of online TV, Gaffney says. The World Cup was an especially strong lure because the internet was the only way to watch so many games that traditional TV lacked the bandwidth to show. But Gaffney said once viewers came for sports, they stayed for everything else.

“Households generally connect because of sports,” she says. “But then when they start to use online television, they start to branch out.”

According to Adobe, viewers have branched out so much that, for the first time, viewers watched more movies online than sports. The average was 4.5 movies per month, Adobe says, versus two a year ago. Viewing of “episodic television” over the internet also saw a sharp increase. The jump is all the more remarkable since Adobe’s survey doesn’t include the main streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. In other words, many people still paying for cable are less interested in watching TV in the cable way and more in the way Netflix has led viewers to come to expect.

“When you want to really binge-view something you didn’t know you wanted to watch until the season was over, you’re going to turn to the online option,” Gaffney says.

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