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April 2012

Behavior and Consciousness regarding Switching Channels

A Report from a Monitor Survey

Kensaku Saito

Why do viewers switch channels? Such viewers’ behavior cannot be ignored for those trying to improve the quality of TV programs because changing the channel while watching a certain program simply means “losing audience.” In specific, to have higher ratings it is indispensable to raise “viewing minutes.” To do so, it is necessary to figure out how they flick channels and why they do as a fundamental work. With that in mind, the author conducted a survey where respondents were asked to record TV footage that they viewed and interviewed about their specific changing-channel behavior while watching the footage again.

The monitors consisted of 181 men and women aged 20 to 50. They were asked to film TV footage by video camera while they were watching it for 150 minutes from 20:30 to 23:00 on September 7 (Wed.), and the records were compiled. The result shows the respondents changed channels 3.5 times on average during 150 minutes. 15% of the overall respondents never changed channels, and 14% did so only once. Meanwhile 22% flicked channels frequently, more than 6 times, which means more than half changing-channel behavior is performed by over 20% of the respondents. Looking at time slots, it is revealed that almost half of changing channels happened between 10 minutes before the hour and 4 minutes after the hour, when there is usually an interval between TV shows. That is, many people switch channels between the end of one program and the start of another. This can be regarded as a common result, but at the same time it is necessary to confirm that changing channels between programs is limited to a certain number of people. The average time between tuning in a channel and changing to another channel was about30 minutes.

When asked why they change channels, the highest number of the respondents said “because the show was over” (24%). This suggests many people are conscious of changing channels after watching a whole program. Meanwhile, when asked reasons for channel changing in terms of program contents, apart from “the show is over,” only 12% responded “because the previous program was boring,” but “because I wanted to watch other program” and “because I wanted to check what programs are aired on other channels” marked 21% respectively, showing that many were curious about other channels.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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