Almost Half of All U.S. Consumers Are 'Digital Omnivores'

By Tara Seals March 26, 2014

It’s official: we have become a nation of multi-taskers. Digital omnivores – defined as those consumers who own a trio of tablets, smartphones and laptops – account for more than one third (37 percent) of U.S. consumers.

According to Deloitte, there’s been a 42 percent growth in digital omnivores over the previous year. This growth is primarily driven by continued tablet adoption (there’s been a 33 percent increase) and, to a lesser extent, smartphone ownership (an 18 percent increase).  Moreover, women, who made up more than one-third (35 percent) of omnivores two years ago, are gaining technology parity—they now account for 45 percent of this group.

"The continued rise of the digital omnivore is an indication that consumers, across generations, are hungry for content across devices, especially media and gaming content on mobile devices," said Gerald Belson, vice chairman of Deloitte and U.S. Media & Entertainment sector leader.  "Consumers are often now able to watch the content they want on the device of their choosing. As an example, they have decoupled the notion that TV shows have to be watched on home TVs. This trend is particularly evident in trailing millennials (aged 14 to 24), who indicated they now spend more time watching television and movie content on non-traditional devices than on TVs."

As new media devices become easily available and ownership increases, U.S. consumers continue to be more distracted while watching home TVs, with 86 percent multitasking, up from 72 percent in 2011. Millennials are the most active multitaskers, engaging in an average of four activities while watching TV. Gen-Xers and boomers are also multitasking more, with both generations engaging in more than one additional activity in 2013 while watching TV. However, fewer than one-quarter (22 percent) of multitasking activities are directly related to the programs that consumers are watching.

Meanwhile, the survey also revealed that U.S. consumer interest in streaming content has nearly doubled in the past year (from 17 percent in 2012 to 32 percent in 2013), with interest in digital formats outpacing demand for physical media. Consumption of media is increasing, but U.S. consumers prefer to rent versus purchase movies and television programming by a ratio of 3:1 in 2013, compared to 2:1 in 2012. This trend is even more pronounced for the trailing millennials.

And, despite increased interest in digital formats, consumers' preference for pay TV subscriptions remains consistent with last year's finding, as U.S. consumers indicate they are largely content with their current Pay TV services. The survey noted than only six percent of consumers who have paid TV services are considering giving up their service in the next year. Furthermore, interest in accessing and purchasing a la carte programming is equal to consumer interest in bundled cable packages with both at 47 percent in 2013.

"This year's results indicate an economic shift in the content industry. Consumer preference for renting instead of buying is driving content distribution models toward a higher volume, lower revenue rental model," said Alma Derricks, director at Deloitte. "Coupled with the increase in multitasking and the fact that viability of second screen services remains unproven, consumers are driving a fundamental shift in industry practices. Even with so much fragmentation in the market, there's an enormous opportunity to capitalize on these behaviors and create offerings that engage consumers in new, meaningful ways."

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

TechZone360 Contributor

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