Many left behind in digital world: report

By Ray Bennett

LONDON — Teenagers live in a different world of entertainment and technology compared to the rest of the population, a new survey confirms.

Revealing what it calls “an astonishing divide in digital entertainment takeup and technology ownership between consumers of different ages”, the report by Entertainment Media Research concludes: “There is a substantial proportion of consumers that feel left behind. All this adds up to a significant untapped market for digital technologies and services.”

Young people have embraced new technology being hooked into next generation games consoles, wireless networks, advanced mobile phones and digital music players. Many grownups, in contrast, remain reliant on traditional media.

The London-based researcher says the poll of 1,608 people showed that a great many adults, especially females, confessed they were confused by the jargon of the new technology. “A fairly massive chunk of the market” has major barriers to overcome before adopting the new media.

“These barriers include awareness, understanding and acceptance. Providers wishing to maximize takeup of new technologies should not underestimate the extent to which they need to educate a substantial tranche of the market,” the report says. “But more often than not, new technology is riddled with jargon and a fair amount of prior assumed technology know-how. This only adds to the barriers facing many consumers. There is a much bigger market available for consumer technology and digital media is these barriers are overcome.”

Polling for the survey took place before Toshiba Corp. threw in the towel on HD DVD and it reveals that 31% of participants said they owned, had access to or planned to buy an HD DVD unit compared to 18% heading Blu-ray’s way. With 24% of respondents indicating they would watch HD packaged media, that’s good news for Blue-ray.

The figure compared to 7% who said they planned to stream or watch Internet video-on-demand although 84% expressed interest in seeing movies released via VOD at the same time as on DVD. Ad-supported VOD appealed to 70% of those polled with 15% saying they would prefer a subscription or pay-per-view model.

Around 6% said they would stream TV programs, 4% would rent standard DVD movies while 2% suggested they would watch a pirated DVD.

From other questions, the survey concluded that social networks have the potential to become major content distribution platforms and are an essential place to be for brands.

For the majority, however, the strongest ties remain with printed books, watching TV via Sky or subscription TV and listening to the radio, the report says.

“Whilst much attention is placed on digital entertainment trends, it is still the traditional media to which consumers are most emotionally attached,” it says.

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