The television industry is changing due to digitalization and technological developments. The primary means of home video entertainment has shifted from traditional linear television to nonlinear television. This is shaping the work of content producers, TV advertisers and traditional broadcast companies, but also the viewing behaviour of audiences. Television was long established as a social practice usually done in the presence of others, better known as co-viewing. However, more recently scholars observed that the social element of television viewing is slowly being replaced by a more individualistic approach. Therefore, this research focused on how co-viewing practices have been reshaped in a digitalized era. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with the age group that responds the most actively to these technological changes in the television industry, students living in a student household. These interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis after which ten themes emerged. These findings give a detailed picture of the experiences and perceptions of co-viewing practices in a student household. To start with, the television screen plays a significant role in student households for both linear and nonlinear television viewing. The young people in this sample observe that linear television is mostly used for live content and is valued for its familiarity and trustworthiness. In terms of nonlinear television viewing, the participants highly appreciate the freedom that comes with it. This type of viewing is much more convenient in a student household. This freedom, the diverse content and absence of commercials is what draws them the most to nonlinear television. Furthermore, student households have on average access to at least two SVOD platforms or more. When it comes to content, short-term content (e.g. movies) is preferred during co-viewing whereas long-term content (e.g. series) is mostly avoided. In addition, students indicate that content which generates more sociability such as live content, reality TV and poor-quality content is the most popular in a co-viewing setting. Moreover, participants report that contrasting schedules lead to less co-viewing. Additionally, too much content as well as contrasting interests results in a longer selection process among the co-viewing groups. The respondents observe that their mobile phone is the most prominent distraction during co-viewing. Finally, co-viewing continues to be a practice in which the social aspect is key. No obstacle can outweigh the social benefits attained from co-viewing.

, , , , , ,
Wayne, M.
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Biezen, Josje van der. (2020, January 4). Co-viewing in a digitalized television landscape: A qualitative research exploring co-viewing behaviour among Dutch student households in a world shaped by digital TV. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from