Parks: Owning a TV isn't important to younger generation

Only one-third of college-aged students consider the TV set to be an important asset, even though most consume video in some form, a new survey by Parks Associates says. They're also watching video on computer screens more than on tablets.

"College students do not prioritize TV," Parks' latest whitepaper, "Uprising: College Students & Changing Video Preferences," said. "This preference does not necessarily imply that college students do not enjoy or value TV content and services--in fact, the majority own or have access to a TV."

While the survey size was small--57 students, aged 18 to 22, attending colleges across the U.S.--the responses hint at a larger trend among this influential age group. Only nine of the students said having a TV set was very important to them, and seven said it was important. Pay TV factored in as a reason for having a television, but not the only one. "Of the sixteen who consider having a TV to be important or very important, most use it to consume pay-TV content. A notable minority, however, value their television set for playing games on a console," whitepaper author Hunter Sappington wrote.

What's interesting is that more than 60 percent of the survey respondents have access to pay TV, either supplied through their college or through their own (or their parents') paid subscription.

Why don't they watch more TV? The biggest response was lack of time. "The most commonly cited reason for finding TV unimportant is that students rarely have time to watch linear TV," the report said. Further, students find having a TV set less important because "the majority of content available on the TV can be accessed through a computer."

Every student surveyed for the whitepaper accesses video content through their computer, and 90 percent--52 out of 57--also use an online video service like Hulu, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) or Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime Instant Video. (Not all of them actually subscribe, but that's another matter.)

So, should pay-TV providers build a strategy to attract this group of cord maybes? Parks thinks so. "Pay-TV and online video providers should tailor services for college audiences as a way of laying the foundation for future relationships with paying customers," Sappington wrote.

That's a strategy that some operators are already beginning to tinker with. While both Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and game console giant Sony are tinkering with OTT-only linear subscription services, other services are developing ways to go direct to college campuses. For example, regional sports network Pac-12 Networks recently teamed with Synacor to stream directly to students at UCLA, Arizona State and the University of Washington. And Comcast this year is streaming 130 channels to Northwestern University students and piloting an 80-channel streaming package to seven East Coast colleges, through its Xfinity on Campus program.

Parks OTT service subscriptions

76 percent of college-age consumers subscribe to an SVOD service, compared to 53 percent of consumers over age 23. (Source: Parks Associates)

For more:
- download this whitepaper (reg. req.)

Special Report: Cord maybes: Pay-TV chases millennials with OTT services, but success is hardly guaranteed

Related articles:
Pac-12 Networks offers a la carte streaming on campuses
Northwestern U. students get free Xfinity TV streaming
Comcast moves forward with IP-based college campus programming service