Monday, 25 March 2013

Time Travel Possible on Canadian TV

The value of distant Canadian and U.S. TV stations to consumers and cable/satellite companies is an issue that Canadian broadcasters have grappled with since the introduction of cable TV in the 1950’s. In the early years distant signals primarily meant that consumers could have access to border U.S. stations from the same time zone and they could watch programs not available on Canadian stations.  Today these signals come from all over North America, from every time zone and this allows viewers to time travel or timeshift, something cable companies and Canadian broadcasters never imagined in the 1950’s or 60’s. 

Incidentally, time shifting is not permitted in the U.S. where consumers can have access to only one  affiliate for each network, their local station.  In Canada, viewers can have access to many different stations belonging to the same network.  Bell TV, for example, offers viewers 25 different CBC TV stations. It is said that as much as one-third of all TV viewing of conventional broadcasters is time-shifted viewing.

Research evidence that demonstrates the value of distant signals for time shifting today can be found in CMRI’s Media Trends Survey, the only survey in Canada that has tracked usage and attitudes toward Canadian TV and other media over the past decade.  This annual survey is syndicated and purchased by a number of broadcasters and industry groups.

The Media Trends Survey has tracked the value of distant signals from other markets for timeshifting since 2003.  The following chart shows that the value of distant signals to consumers has remained constant over the past decade.  70% or more of respondents in nine consecutive years have agreed that TV stations from other time zones is one of the most valuable services offered by cable/satellite companies and in 2011 it reached an all time high, exceeding 80%:

The 2011 survey results are from CMRI's Media Trends Survey conducted November-December 2011 among a representative national sample of approximately 900 Anglophone respondents aged 18-plus.  Margin of error +/-3.3%.  The Media Trends Survey has been conducted for ten consecutive years and has surveyed over 15,000 Canadians in total. In our analysis we usually only report Anglophone results.   Both Anglophones and Francophones have been surveyed in this period, using questionnaires in each respective language.  Francophones have been surveyed in 5 of the 10 years.  To compensate for poorer response rates among younger adults results are statistically weighted in keeping with industry standards.  It is the only survey to have measured media use and attitudes continuously over this decade. The Media Trends Survey is not sponsored by any one industry or affiliated with a media company.

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