Finally, Decipher has its own Tracker!

On the consultancy and advisory side of Decipher, we have often had some serious bones of contention with how your average consumer survey or tracker goes about measuring things such as take-up of devices, ownership and behaviour. We are consistently irritated with the banality and surface level nature of the questions which are asked in said trackers….not mentioning any names of course! We have long stressed to survey providers and quantitative research companies that with the fast moving nature of TV tech it simply is not enough to ask questions such as ‘Do you have a Smart TV?’ without enquiring as to its make or model. Likewise it is insufficient to ask questions such as ‘How often do you use iPlayer?’ without also discovering whether this use is in home or away from home, what device it is through and a multitude of other crucial but slightly weird questions. It might seem like we’re nit-picking here, but going deeper than surface level when asking these questions is vital in any serious attempt to put together a true picture of consumer behaviour with regard to this world.

Thankfully, a new tracker has emerged which does provide answers to all these questions and more, and which will henceforth inform all of our insight and consultancy work. Who provides this tracker? We do of course! Or more specifically our colleagues over at Decipher Media Research, who have just launched their biannual tech tracker, Mediabug (see, it even has a cool name). This tracker asks a nationally representative sample of 3000 people all of the questions which other trackers have been afraid to, and thus gives a far truer picture of the connected tech world we find ourselves in, especially compared with near-pointless statistics like ‘40% of people have connected their TV to the internet’ (yes but how does this connectivity rate differ across makes and models? How many people who have connected their TVs have Pay TV? What are the main reasons why people did or did not connect them? And on and on ad nauseum).

Key findings from Mediabug Wave 1 were as follows:

  • In homes that have TV VOD, it is clearly the most preferred way to watch On Demand programming. The rapid expansion of TV VOD services is set to cannibalise VOD use on other devices as consumers move their online VOD viewing onto the main screen in their lives (for more discussion on this point see ‘It’s a New Era of Set Top Box Domination’).
  • TV VOD is emerging in two potentially conflicting systems – on set top boxes (via Sky, Virgin Media, and Youview) and on Smart TV screens (e.g. Samsung & Sony). And homes frequently have both (see ‘Set Top Boxes vs. Smart TVs – Who Wins? Who Cares?’)
  • While Smart TVs are in only 1 in 10 broadband enabled homes, ownership is highly correlated with pay TV homes – around 1 in 2 Smart TV owners have Sky.
  • Connection rates of Smart TVs are growing every year. Initial figures indicated around 40-50% of Smart TVs were being connected to the Internet, but 2011 and 2012 Smart TV models are achieving around an 85% connection rate.
  • Pay TV homes consume more media across all devices than non Pay homes. They are more likely to own, consume, and pay for content on mobile devices, and are more likely to have a Smart TV.
  • As of Q4 2012, 1 in 5 broadband enabled homes have heard of new TV VOD service YouView, however penetration levels and expectations to purchase are currently negligible.

Luckily for us, these findings confirm most of what we have been saying for the last 12 months, on this blog and elsewhere – namely that connection rates of the later (and better) models of Smart TV are far higher than when the entire range are considered as a whole, due to greater ease of use and greater reason to connect them in the first place. Not only that, but Smart TV ownership is highly correlated with households who subscribe to a Pay TV service, leading to all sorts of interesting questions about cord-cutting and the relationship between boxes and screens. And finally that the arrival of TV VOD is set to have a huge impact on consumers’ use of VOD on other devices. It will be fascinating to see what Mediabug uncovers over the next few years around behaviours such as usage of the PVR, and the effect of 1.5m new homes now having BBC on demand content through their set top box.

If you would like to find out more about Mediabug, visit

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