Surveys See Strength in Out-of-Home, Internet TV Viewing

The good old British pub is firmly established as a viewing option for football fans in the UK, according to a new survey. Research by YouGov/SMG Insight shows that a third of adults in the UK planning to see coverage of the Premier League on TV this season will watch the action somewhere other than their own front rooms.

This trend for out-of-home viewing is seen particularly among younger age groups. Almost a quarter of 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed (23%) said they will watch football in a pub or club. A further 11% responded that they will go to a friend’s house to watch.

The picture is different in the 45-and-over age group: just 7% in this category go to the pub to see Premier League games, 84% preferring to stay at home to watch. By contrast, only 51% of 18- to 24-year-olds plan to stay in their homes to catch the games.

A total of 2,122 British adults took part in the survey Aug. 13-16, with the new Premier League season beginning on Aug. 14.

The research also shows that the Internet has not made serious inroads for viewing football. This is at odds with another study, which shows that 50% of those questioned use the Web for TV viewing every week.

Multi-Screen Media Consumption 2010 was produced by the ConsumerLab division of mobile-phone giant Ericsson, conducting interviews in China, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the U.S. The company says the survey represents more than 300 million consumers.

According to this research, 35% of people spend their leisure periods watching TV and video and are increasingly aware of new technologies. Traditional “linear” TV still accounts for most viewing, with 93% using scheduled services. But this is being challenged by other viewing methods: more than 70% of those polled use streaming, downloading, or time-shifted recordings, with 50% watching on-demand services through the Internet.

“The consumer is looking for a solution that can offer them the freedom to choose what they want, when they want it, and how they want it,” says Anders Erlandsson, senior adviser at Ericsson ConsumerLab. “The user experience is in focus, rather than the technical platform.”

The YouGov/SMG Insight survey does not come to the same conclusion regarding those looking for coverage of the Premier League. Only 2% said the Web was their preferred way of watching, regardless of the explosion of streamed outlets.

“Out-of-home viewing in many cases is still considered to be value-added beyond traditional TV ratings,” says Frank Saez, founder/managing director of SMG Insight. “The age group of 18- to 34-year-olds is an extremely important group of viewers to advertisers and sponsors. They are the first to have the latest gadgets and less likely to have developed brand loyalties.

“Our international consumer panel,” he continues, “provides us with the ability to monitor out-of-home sports viewing with precision on a regular basis. This study is the first of several planned for this season.”

The research does not necessarily confirm that the British are obsessed with football: 56% of adults said they do not intend to watch any Premier League games on TV during the coming season.