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Screen Wars: the changing video landscape

According to a new report released by performance management firm Nielsen, three quarters of New Zealanders (75%) believe face-to-face interactions are being replaced with electronic ones. 

The report, Screen wars: The Battle for Eye Space in a TV-Everywhere World, examines what Nielsen says is the rapidly developing global digital video landscape and shows how consumers are adapting their viewing preferences to a new reality, where seven-in-10 (70%) enjoy the freedom of being connected anywhere, anytime. Nielsen says that while the television is still the screen of choice for viewing video content, device proliferation and social-media interaction is shifting the power from the provider to the people.

“While the television set remains dominant, our viewing patterns are shifting and can now watch where we want, when we want” says Tony Boyte, research director, Nielsen NZ. 

“The explosion of devices has given us more access to content and brands than ever before. The media industry must adapt their strategies to fit with a new reality, offering engaging and relevant content that is easily accessible across devices and channels.”

The Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries, including 500 New Zealanders, to understand how the changing digital landscape is affecting how, where and why we watch video programming. 

Video programming was defined as any type of content, such as TV, professional video or user-generated content that is watched on a TV, PC, mobile device such as a phone, tablet or e-reader. 

The study also examines consumption preferences for video programming, including the devices most commonly used for selected genres and the devices used to view video at home and on the go.


According to the survey, 40% of New Zealand respondents say video programmes are an important part of their lives, but “when it comes to the way we like to watch video programming, size does matter.” Nielsen says over half of respondents (51%) think bigger is better when it comes to screen size, but they also ‘appreciate the convenience and portability’ of mobile devices. 

Thirty seven percent of respondents think watching video programming on their mobile device is convenient. In addition, the same number (37%) says a tablet is just as good as a PC or laptop computer for watching programming.


Nielsen says real-time conversations on social media are replacing physical gatherings around the water cooler to talk about people’s favourite TV shows. “Live TV has become a social event that goes way beyond the confines of our living rooms,” the company says.

The survey revealed nearly a third of New Zealand respondents (30%) said they like to keep up with shows so they can join the conversation on social media, and a fifth (21%) say they watch live video programming more if it has a social media tie in. Thirty percent of respondents say they engage with social media while watching video programming, and nearly half of respondents (47%) say they browse the internet while watching video programming.

Boyte discusses how producers of content can successfully engage audiences online; “Social media can increase programme awareness, make the experience more enjoyable and keep viewers engaged,” he says. “Second-screen strategies should include an interactive component that allows users to take part – making them feel involved and deepening their connection to the programme.”

“But the content needs to be fresh to maximise time spent and to drive repeat visitation,” says Boyte. “Designers can’t focus on one screen, they need to ensure accessibility wherever users are and that the user experience is enjoyable across all devices.”


“Whether it’s watching a sporting event, news show, documentary or movie, TV remains at the centre of video consumption,” Nielsen says. “It is the most frequently cited device for watching nearly all types of programming genres included in the survey—by a wide margin.”

The company says the exception to this fact is short-form video (typically less than 10 minutes long), which is cited as more commonly viewed on computers, mobile phones and tablets.

A computer is the second-most commonly mentioned viewing device for nearly all genres, and it tops the list of devices used to watch short-form content. A smaller, but notable, proportion of consumers watch video content on a mobile phone or tablet, while viewing on e-readers and/or gaming consoles has not yet gained traction.