TV Viewers, Gamers Catch Internet Bug

First came the TV, then video games, then the Internet, which has changed the way we use them all. TV viewers want more interactivity in their programming, according to Dataquest, while Internet users want to take gaming to a new level.

Dataquest’s report, “Telewebbers on the Rise,” found the number of telewebbers (an individual who simultaneously watches TV and surfs the Web) in the US has reached 44 million. By the beginning of 2001, the number of telewebbers is projected to reach 52 million US consumers, up from 27 million consumers in 1999. Dataquest’s projections are based on a survey of 40,000 US households, which was conducted in February of 2000.

“Telewebbers are prime candidates as potential early adopters of ‘true’ interactive programming through a single device, as opposed to using multiple devices simultaneously, whether PC or television,” said Sujata Ramnarayan senior industry analyst for Dataquest’s e-Digital Media Worldwide program. “This is the group of consumers that manufacturers of set-top boxes and service providers should target initially.”

But this interactivity needs to be non-intrusive and should not take away from the primary activity of watching TV. “As an initial step, they should start with a minimal level of interactivity, such as offering instant viewers’ polls, the ability to make purchases, and hot advertisement buttons that will provide more product information. News programs should consider displaying links to their Web sites on a news story, pointing to greater editorial detail. Interactivity may also extend to multiple viewer angles on a show, news stories, or sports,” Ramnarayan said.

In 2000, 60 percent of telewebbers have used the Internet at least occasionally to get information on a product they saw on television. About 32 percent ordered a product that they saw advertised on television via the Internet. This compares with 44 percent getting information on a product and 20 percent ordering a product in 1999.

“While commerce-related activities are relatively more popular, some of this can be attributed to the lack of programming-related interactivity, both in quantity and in choice and variety, available today,” Ramnarayan said. “It’s clear that consumers are ready for greater interactivity in the programs they watch in TV, including advertisements. Programmers and advertisers should incorporate interactivity into their productions.”

Approximately 6 percent of the US adult population has access to some form of broadband compared with 12.5 percent among telewebbers. The disparity among the two groups is expected to grow, as 18 percent of telewebbers intend to get broadband access in the next 12 months compared with 8 percent in the general population.

According to research by PC Data, one-third of home Internet users plan to purchase one of the next-generation game consoles, which will mark the beginning of online gaming through consoles. Of those who plan to purchase a game console, 63 percent said they planned on buying the forthcoming Playstation 2; 22.4 percent said Sega Dreamcast; 17.2 percent Nintendo “Dolphin”; and 11.9 percent said Microsoft X-Box.

“The online gaming experience should elevate the console market to the next level, with new and abundant revenue opportunities for manufacturers,” said Matt Gravett, PC Data’s game analyst. “However, consumers are not expected to pay more to game online via the next generation of consoles. Hardware prices and Internet access costs must be kept low or else the online console gaming movement could stall.”

  • Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed expressed an interest in online gaming. More than 45 percent of respondents are somewhat interested in online gaming, while 30.5 percent are either very or extremely interested in online gaming.
  • More than 46 percent of respondents said they would spend more time playing games if they were online.
  • 62 percent of those planning to buy were likely to purchase a new console within six to 12 months. More than 33 percent of respondents said they were willing to spend between $150 to $199 for the new device. Thirty percent said they would be willing to pay more than $200.
  • Strategy (60.8 percent) and role-playing (47.1 percent) games were the most popular game genres followed by racing (45.6 percent) and first person shooter (43.5 percent).
  • In exchange for free hardware, more than half of the panel (54.7 percent) said they would consider signing up for console Internet access for at least one year.

PC Data surveyed 1,500 home Internet users May 15-18, 2000.

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