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Saturday, September 28 • 2:35pm - 3:10pm
Prime-Time Any Time: The Effect of Time-Shifted TV on Media Consumption

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With the convergence of telecommunication technologies, traditional telecommunication providers have been facing increasing competition both from their direct competitors, and from new online content providers. Faced with this strong competition, traditional telecommunication providers feel the pres- sure to innovate and offer more and better services to their clients. Nowadays many television bundles offer access to video-on-demand systems, TV over the internet in computers and mobile devices as well as digital video recording (DVR).

DVR became available as a response to the emergence of digital recording technologies such as TiVo (a device for for digital recording of television broadcasts released in 1999) (Bronnenberg et al., 2010) and it introduced the concept of time shifted television in the telecommunications and media industry.

Time shifted television increases the alternatives that consumers can choose from at any point in time and allow them to bypass the programming of the different networks for free. It empowers consumers at the expense of content providers and advertisers and it raises the marginal costs of service provision of the telecommunication firms. Time shifted television allows consumers to zip through commercials more easily (Wilbur, 2008). It makes predicting programme audience more difficult because the mix of consumers who will actually watch them may change (Anderson and Gans, 2008) and it also increases network bandwidth requirements making actual network planning and design more demanding and costly (Zhou and Lipowsky, 2004; Li and Simon, 2011).

Although this perspective on the impact of time shifted television on telecommunication firms and advertisers seems gloom, it is the actual behavior of consumers using these technologies that will determine whether they represent a real threat or opportunity for further business. However, so far there is little empirical evidence on how these technologies will actually affect consumers and their behavior towards television and telecommunication providers.

In this paper we characterize some of the changes that time shifted television is triggering on television consumption patterns and we discuss the implications for consumers and the industry stakeholders alike. We work with a large telecommunication provider that started offering to their clients a new time-shift service (hereinafter Look Back) that allows users to watch content originally aired up to 168 hours in the past for over 60 different television channels. We obtained a large dataset of television use, video-on- demand (VoD), internet consumption and consumer acquisition and churn that spans a period before and after the release of Look Back and we study its impact on consumer behavior.

Using a random sample of 50,000 time-shift events between September and December 2012 we find that most of these events pertain to content transmitted during the past 24 hours. Furthermore, most time-shift events are of content transmitted in the last few hours. This reveals that content is time sensitive, and that older content is not as attractive as newer one.

We also find evidence consistent with the superstar effect described by (Rosen, 1981): prime-time content is the most requested during prime-time, but also the most requested in off-peak hours. This suggests that being able to watch any content at any time increases the overall viewership of prime-time content in detriment of other content, skewing the content viewership distribution. This has important implications for TV and advertising industries: as time-shifting allows the disentangling of prime-time ? the time most people is watching TV ? from prime-content ? the content viewed by most people, the timing of (non-live) content exhibition becomes less important, and most of the value appropriation from advertising will shift to content itself.

Finally we show that Look Back increased the rate at which new consumers join the telecommunication provider, at the same time it also increased the rate at which consumers subscribing to bundles unable of time shifting decided to upgrade their service.

By characterizing user viewership patterns in Look Back an how the service affected consumer acquisition and churn in a large telecommunication firm, we are able to provide insight on the business risks, but also the business benefits that this type of service may bring to the industry as whole.

Saturday September 28, 2013 2:35pm - 3:10pm PDT
GMUSL Room 332

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