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Koreans lead mobile TV trend: report

Koreans watch TV through multiple digital devices, ConsumerLab research shows

Ericsson Inc. ConsumerLab East Asia head Cathaya Xu delivers a presentation on TV media consumer insights in Seoul.
Ericsson Inc. ConsumerLab East Asia head Cathaya Xu delivers a presentation on TV media consumer insights in Seoul.
Before the advent of TV delivered by Internet broadband, old-fashioned, a-la-carte television was king.

In those days, viewers could only choose from limited content, in a limited time and space, on a limited device.

But beyond the TVs sitting in living rooms and bedrooms, people now have access to TV content through desktop computers and laptops and even smart devices, such as smartphones and tablet PCs.

According to ConsumerLab’s annual research in 2012 on TV consumption that was compiled by Ericsson Inc., Ericsson-LG’s parent company, Koreans now are rapidly shifting to a multi-screen paradigm, where mobile devices become their second or third screens.

The ConsumerLab research concludes that the future opportunities of the TV and video content industry revolve around how much of an “individualized TV experience” the service providers can guarantee.

More and more consumers will become convenience-oriented, which results from three key factors: social TV, on-demand content and idea-based content discovery.

“Korean TV and video market is one of the trendsetters of TV and video services,” said Ericsson’s ConsumerLab East Asia head Cathaya Xu.

“Koreans spend a longer watching TV and video than British and American viewers, but they spend less time in front of conventional managed TVs,” the Chinese mobile consumption market expert said in a recent media workshop in Seoul.

The ConsumerLab report says Korean viewers watch an average 32 hours of TV per week ― about 7.4 hours more than their British and American counterparts, who spend about 24.6 hours.

Out of these hours, about 28 percent of Korean viewers watch TV away from home, compared to only 13 percent in the U.K. and U.S. markets.

“On average, Koreans weekly spend only 13.5 hours in front of TV in contrast to their peers in the U.K. and the U.S. who spend 18.1 hours. This means that Korean consumers like to watch TV through multiple devices,” Xu said.

In comparison to their U.K. and U.S. peers, Koreans weekly watch TV and video content for about 5.3 more hours on desktop computers, 4.2 more hours on smartphones, 1.5 more hours on laptops, 2.3 more hours on tablet PCs and about 1.1 more hours on iPods and other mp3 devices.

As for watching TV on smartphones, the ConsumerLab report reveals that about 52 percent of Korean viewers have video-watching apps and about 24 percent have TV show apps installed on their smartphones.

About 9 percent fewer British and American TV watchers have video apps and about 15 percent fewer have TV show apps, according to the report ― suggesting that Koreans have adopted the mobile TV paradigm faster than their British and American peers.

Xu added that Koreans chat online or use social networking services while watching TV and video to exchange real-time reviews, more so than their U.K. and U.S. counterparts.

Koreans want TV content services with high quality and more choices, Xu said, even if it costs more.

In Korea, about 11 percent of TV watchers reduced or eliminated traditional, wired TV services in 2012 because they did not consider traditional services worth the cost, according to ConsumerLab.

Citing the report’s statistics, Xu said that about 52 percent Koreans are willing to pay an extra $1 for enhanced high-definition quality.

Koreans who consider HD quality a No. 1 priority increased about 17 percentage points this year, whereas their British and American peers showed a 6 percentage point increase.

On concerns that illegal free TV and video streaming may hurt the development of Korean TV content industry, Xu claimed that providing more legal, virus-free, convenient TV and video service packages would become the ultimate solution.

“In the current Korean TV content market, convenience beats desire for free-of-charge, illegal services,” Xu said.

“Once the illegal downloaders become aware of the legal, more convenient premium services, they will not use illegal, low-quality services anymore.”

By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)
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