Live Video versus Time-Shifted Viewing

Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

In today’s tech-driven world, consumers have more viewing options than ever. In this post, we will look at the new trends in watch timing preferences and the needs to connect live and on-demand video. 

Not only are there several platforms and devices from which you can enjoy your entertainment, but there are also many different time frames in which to watch it, the big two being live viewing and time-shifted viewing.

Of course, especially when it comes to sports broadcasting, watching the action live is incredibly exciting as you’re literally watching something unfold right before your very eyes. But of course, if you’re unable to be there to watch a live broadcast, time-shifting offers the opportunity to enjoy it at a later, more convenient time.

What does the numbers say on TV viewing?

It will not be big news, but viewers want their video asap! But, which medium is most popular in the modern world? 

According to recent research from TiVo, collated from their second-by-second set-top box data, live viewing throughout the day, as well as primetime periods, looks to be most popular, coming in at a total of 82% in a total day for all broadcasts.

It does seem as if people are more inclined to watch broadcasts live via cable; however, time-shifted viewing from the same day right through to three days after an event is the second most viewing option, as the charts show:

Live vs time-shifted viewing

Source: TiVO’s State of TV Report (2016 Q1)

Despite the rise of time-shifting and the influence of social media in today’s world, viewers are still much more inclined to watch sporting events live – it’s so easy to accidentally find out the results these days after all.

Across the pond in the UK, those sports viewers surveyed earlier in the year confirmed that 86% prefer to tune in live rather than lean on a time-shift option, once again suggesting that when it comes to athletic events, live is the true weapon of choice.

According to Statista, time-shifted viewership across all genres either remained the same or grew slightly from 2014 – 2015, and was most popular among TV soaps and dramas, coming in at 35% and 36% for 2015 and 2016.

Sports means live

A study from Nielsen confirms that 95% of total sports viewing happens live. In comparison, just 66% of general drama viewers tune in live. To put it into perspective, sports accounted for 93 of the top 100 live-viewed TV programs last year, compared to just 14 a decade earlier.

Sports and live viewing

Live-to-VoD solutions: the answer of the OTT world

Although time-shifted viewing has firmly established itself in the SVOD world and is showing signs of steady growth, it is still yet to eclipse the allure of live broadcasting, particularly in sports.

As further developments take place, time-shifted viewing will become an increasingly viable option for consumers across all platforms and mediums, but in the present, live viewing still reigns supreme as the number one option.

According to press reports, the big broadcasters are starting to integrate the time-shifted habits of viewers, as complementary to their live offerings.  AT&T will release a catch-up TV service (or replay) to let users watch shows from the past three days; ESPN is among the networks excluded from this feature but customers can log use the WatchESPN service to view select past programming.

In the eSports industry, the demand for replay content is hugely popular as well. Fans ask for instant live-to-VoD option in order to catch up with their favorite events in case when they are not able to watch them.

The world of OTT and SVOD is ever-evolving, and it’s hard to tell what will happen in the distant future, but that’s what makes it so exciting – the best way to succeed as a content provider is to stay informed, remain innovative, and whatever you do, don’t get left behind.


Find out how sports organizations manage live and time-shifted videos from one single platform: