Moving Media: How much does control over digital content matter to telecom consumers?

At industry conference after industry conference, whether it’s for content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers, or service providers, digital content shifting is a central topic of discussion.

Digital content shifting is relatively new, so it will likely take some time before all consumers adopt it on a regular basis, but what do they want now? To begin to answer that question, I looked at what people who had shopped online for telecommunications services had to say about how important digital content shifting was in their decision-making process.

As we can see in the chart, control over content matters to people shopping for TV service, but some types of control are more important to consumers than others. DVR capability was considered important by 57% of respondents, while 47% said access to content through a provider site was key. On demand content selection and the ability to access computer files – like music and pictures – through the TV doesn’t seem to be nearly as important to those shoppers.

This may be true when people are shopping for TV services, but does it factor into their decision differently when it comes to the possibility of buying cell phone service from a telco provider?

Here we see a pattern similar to the one we observed among the TV service shoppers: some types of content shifting are more important to consumers than others. However, we also see a lower percentage of respondents overall saying that these shifting capabilities really factor into in their decision-making process than we did in the previous example.

These results suggest that most telco shoppers are looking to shift and control the flow of content, but shifting content between devices isn’t top of mind yet. Consider the relatively low importance placed on accessing TV content online, watching mobile TV from a cell phone, and controlling a DVR from a wireless device versus DVR capabilities and access to content through a provider site. In those cases, the most important thing about digital content is gaining control over timing and flow of content on a particular device, not moving media from one device to another.

What might this mean in the short to medium term? For service providers and content producers, empowering people to access media content on a number of different platforms for a single price might be more important than enabling them to move it across devices. By extension, the key for CE manufacturers might be to provide consumers with devices that make this type of shifting as simple and convenient as possible with different service providers.

For the longer term, free movement of media content may be the next step. Stay tuned.