Unlimited Internet is Changing the Way Canadians Get their TV

TV Watching circa 1958

Things have changed a bit over the years

Our pals at Rogers commissioned a study on Canadians and how they are consuming television and the results are staggering.

For Rogers that is – and also for all the other TV providers out there.

It turns out Canadians don’t like being force fed what they watch and when they watch it anymore and increasingly are taking matters into their own hands.

When commercial TV first was thrust upon the masses in the ’50’s, the single most important person for any broadcaster was the Director of Programming. His job – it was always a he – was to decide who got to watch what and when they got to watch it. Omnipotent, they only answered to the network heads – and Program Directors at the handful of other channels where all mighty ratings were the only measure of  failure or success.

That model remained unchanged until very recently when things like the cable channel explosion, VCRs, TIVO, PVRs, Netflix and Peer-to-Peer all became available. Suddenly the Program Director’s job was taken away.

They no longer made decisions for us. Instead we watched on our schedule not theirs.

Also there’s this – our schedules are pretty weird.

In the poll of 1,275 Canadians conducted by Head Research, viewers were asked how many episodes of a show they went through consecutively during a binge-watching session on a weeknight or on a weekend. (You can review the survey here).

81 per cent of respondents said they watched three or more episodes of a series during a viewing marathon in the past year. The average during the week was four straight episodes and it was 4.6 on weekends.

Unlimited Internet Makes Canadians Binge on TV

When asked how many episodes of a show they watched consecutively during a viewing binge, the respondents who were 34 and younger averaged 5.4 episodes on a weeknight and 6.6 episodes on a weekend. Among those 55 and older, the averages were 3.2 on a weeknight and 3.3 episodes on a weekend.

So it’s not just the hipsters who are doing it – we basically all are. And Rogers, Bell and Telus have serious issues with this because, one, they depend on traditional advertising dollars to pay for all this programming, which bingers skip through, and two, we’re getting our programming elsewhere.

wl_save_internetUnlimited High Speed Internet, and therefore unlimited downloads allows Canadians to “cut the cable” in record numbers. There was a 12% increase in those who chose to drop their TV service completely in 2012, with 2013 poised to be even higher.

Ironically the Internet providers that are driving people away from cable and satellite TV packages are the very same ones who need those eyeballs to pay the bills – and that would be Rogers, Bell and Telus. All three have employed draconian cash grabs on their customers by capping their bandwidth in order to stop them from downloading or watching Netflix.

Increasingly however, Canadians have refused to play along. They’re not taking it anymore for one simple reason: Unlike the days of old, when we all watched what some faceless programmer chose for us to watch, Canadians now have the power.

And you know that’s gotta make the Big Three very, very nervous.

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