Arqiva: “A bunch of millennials watching Friends – it’s bizarre”

David Crawford,  MD, Satellite and Media business,  Arqiva

David Crawford,
MD, Satellite and Media business,

Content Delivery World (5th – 7th October 2015. Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, London) is very nearly upon us, and as we know it’s one of the leading events for IP and TV technologists.

In case there’s any danger that the consumer be forgotten among all the acronyms, however, this year’s event sees Arqiva unveiling some exclusive research on millennials in a special panel discussion,on Day 1 (Tuesday 6th October) at 11:30am. 

IP&TV News: Hi David. First of all, could you tell us about the background for Arqiva’s new millennial research?

David Crawford: There is this perception that millennials are the early adopters and driving the change in viewing habits. Our clients are very interested in how the millennials are viewing today, how they’re likely to view in the future, and how you monetise all that. For us at Arqiva this topic is also very important since our proposition to customers is “you provide the content, we do the rest” and so clearly we need a very good understanding of the changing dynamics of where and how that content is being distributed to viewers.

And how is this going to be introduced at Content Delivery World?

The panel is going to be exploring, from a number of different angles, this millennial group and their viewing habits: how their habits are likely to evolve, what urban myths look like they’re right, which ones aren’t, and how the audience can convert these findings into their world – either in advertising, software development, programming, or network architecture. We want to have a consumer and commercial conversation as opposed to a technical one.

Over the summer we set up some research with some 13-18 year olds. There’s quite a lot of static digital diary work that we wanted to push and probe, but we were also interested in trying to understand the dynamics behind it – the why not just the what, and how that is likely to change over time. Essentially we’ve been asking participants to imagine themselves in five or ten years. So, they’ve got their own apartment, they don’t have their parents around, and they’ve been given this smart TV: how are their viewing habits likely to change?’

Can you give us a foretaste of some of your discoveries?

I don’t want to steal the thunder of the session. But one thing that stands out is that there is, from what we’ve seen, a difference in viewing habits on weekdays and weekends. I’ve not seen this in some of the digital diary work already out there. On weekdays, live linear TV is probably the biggest component of content viewing, and mostly it’s on smart TVs. But on the weekend the viewing habits change dramatically.

At the weekend, by far the most frequent type of content to watch is SVOD, with Netflix and Amazon being the most popular choice; and the second most frequent is miscellaneous online videos – like YouTube and a lot of short form stuff, such as gaming videos. Watching live TV came in at a distant third choice.

What do you make of that?

Well it seems to debunk the myth about the death of linear TV. What we’re trying to now understand a bit more is the ‘why’. Is it that weekday viewing is about completely disengaging the brain by turning on the TV, and at the weekend you’re actually thinking more about what you want to watch?

Any other findings you can let us in on?

Another thing we found is that there’s a lot of watching of live TV – but by streaming it. That’s something we want to pick up on. Also, which wasn’t a surprise for us, was that it is programme/brand-led, particularly on the non-linear side of things. For Arqiva’s clients this becomes really important. Do they channel their efforts and spend into creating mega brands and then use some of the curated Video on Demand (VoD) capabilities to introduce stuff that hasn’t been as heavily branded, or do they stick with channel branding? So there’s a bit of debate there. I imagine that, for some of the technologists in the audience, when you’re looking at caching and all that side of things, then they’re going to be interested in to what degree content viewership is going to get more, or less, concentrated.

Finally, one surprise was that, if you look at some of this brand-led viewing, the top five, was Friends, Made In Chelsea, the Simpsons, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear. Thinking about a bunch of millennials watching something like Friends – it’s bizarre.

Click here to register for this week’s Content Delivery World (Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, London)


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