SRG: The future of TV is on-demand; the question is how…

DVRs, Cablecos, Interweb vie for top spot as TV interface model of the future.

There is no question that the ultimate future of television is on-demand, according to the Fast Forward Trend Analysis report conducted by Solutions Research Group (SRG) of Toronto for the CRTC as a prelude to the Commission’s upcoming TV review. The jury is still out about whether that on-demand content will most likely be delivered via DVR, cable on-demand, or a PC or screen connected to broadband Internet.

Right now about 12% of Canadian households use either a DVR or VOD. SRG expects on-demand use, either via cable or DTH (satellite services), to leap to 30% of all households in the next five years.

Overall, Canadians 12+ spend about 60% of their time with TV (22%), radio (19%) and the Internet (16%) while the rest of the time is distributed between playing video games (4%), watching DVDs and videos (6%), reading (15%), and listening to music/CDs/MP3s (19%).

Quebec is slightly behind the rest of Canada in digital TV penetration (41% Quebec, 45% ROC). The province also lags in use of the Internet (65% Quebec, 74% ROC), cell phone ownership (46% Quebec, 62% ROC), and ownership of digital devices such as digital cameras (44% Quebec, 64% ROC) and music players (24% Quebec, 28% ROC).

Highlights of the Fast Forward Trend Analysis report also include data on ownership and usage of television, computer, and digital devices in 2006.

SRG says that growth of HDTV in Canada has underperformed against its projections in the past two years, primarily due to three factors: persistently high price points; consumer confusion around features and benefits of HD including lack of programming; and the lack of clear and consistent messaging by consumer electronics and TV industries. According to SRG’s Fast Forward™ Trend Analysis, 10% of Canadian households (just over 1.2 million households) now have an HD-capable set. Other studies have suggested penetration rates that are slightly higher, in the 14-15% range.

* 98% of Canadian households have a TV with an average of 2.4 per home; 38% of households have 3 or more TVs. Households with tweens or teens are more likely to have a higher number of TVs.

* DVD player ownership continues to rise. 87% of households now have one, a 39% increase since 2003.

* There are just over 12 million households in Canada (2006) and 44% of them are digital.

* 25% of households subscribe to a premium movie service available on digital cable or DTH.

* 10% of Canadian households has an HDTV set, up from 2% in 2004.

* 6% of Canadian households (just over 700,000) have a DVR in 2006, up from 4% in 2005. Canada lags behind the U.S. in DVR ownership (8% of U.S. households vs. 4% Canada in 2005), which SRG attributes to the lack of strong brand driver such as TiVo.

* 44% of Canadian digital cable customers (approximately 1 million households) have used VOD (paid or free).

Computer and Internet:

After doubling between 1998 and 2006, Internet use (from any location) is now stable in the mid-70% level of Canadians on a weekly basis. Practically all of the 12-29 age group and almost 80% of those 30-49 use the Internet. Among those aged 50 or older, weekly use is just over the 50% mark. In 2003, 31% of Canadian households had broadband access – in 2006, this figure has increased to 51%.

* 80% of all Canadian households now have a PC.

* 2+ PC households are growing – now about 32% of all Canadian households – and are most frequently households with tweens and teens.

* Almost one-in-five Canadians (17%) has a laptop computer, up from 10% in 2003.

* Internet use more than doubled between 1998 and 2004. Overall incidence of use is now flat in the 70%+ range since 2004.

* Almost all tweens and teens are weekly Internet users

* In 2006, 64% of Canadians used the Internet from home, 32% from work.

* Home broadband penetration in Canada has broken through the 50% milestone. Of the 12 million households in Canada, just over 6 million (51%) have broadband Internet.

* 29% of Canadian Internet users downloaded music in the last month. 8% downloaded a podcast.

* 41% of Canadian Internet users watched video online in the last month.

* Online video is quickly catching on as sites like make online video accessible without the need for downloading.

* One-in-two Internet users use Instant Messaging. Over 80% of those 12-29 use Instant Messaging.

Digital devices:

SRG predicts that in the next five years, broadband connectivity will drive the growth in personal digital technologies such as digital music and video players, ultra-portable PCS, cameras, mobile and smart phones, and associated content and services. As this segment expands, growth in household technologies such as DTH and digital cable will slow down.

* Ownership of all personal digital content devices (still and video cameras, digital music players) has increased since 2003, with digital cameras leading the way in growth.

* In 2006, 44% of households have a video game console, such as Xbox or PS2.

* Wireless smartphones and email devices such as BlackBerry or Treo are currently used by 4% of Canadians.

* Cell phone ownership growth slowed down somewhat, staying steady at 58% among Canadians 12+.