Death to the television queen, long live the smartphone king

The smartphone has already displaced the television as the main technology as it is present in 97% of urban Mexican homes, compared to 94% of televisions.

The National Survey of Audiovisual Content Consumption (ENCCA) 2020-2021 of the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) is already a classic document to know the evolution of audiovisual consumption of Mexicans. Its first edition was in 2015; that year the presence of television dominated with 98.3% and cell phones stood at 76.2%.

Another finding is that 59% of people watch content on the Internet, when six years ago that percentage was 25.8%. Consumption of online content grew 8 percentage points compared to 2019.

Network users consume audiovisual content 3.3 hours a day on average from Monday to Friday. Although the ENCCA does not mention the same data on open TV, we know from the Study on the Habits of Internet Users in Mexico 2020 (Internet MX Association) that it is 2 hours 18 minutes on television.

Broadcast TV viewing continues to decline, which corroborates that its historical moment and hegemony has already passed, giving its place to the Internet. In 2015, 80.9% of all people with a television tuned in to open TV channels, but that percentage has already dropped to 75%, which speaks of new cultural habits. Not even home confinement due to the pandemic reduced the drop in broadcast television consumption.

Las Estrellas de Televisa is still the most watched broadcast TV channel with 56%, but in 2015 it was 64%. In general, all open TV signals lost audiences, both in urban and rural settings.

The main drop was Azteca Uno, reaching 31% in 2020-2021, when six years ago it was consumed by 47% of those who had a television.

A very peculiar phenomenon in Mexico is that among the subscribers to the pay television service, the most consumed channels are those of open TV. The reason is because the open signal coverage does not reach all homes and because of its poor reception. The main reason for not hiring pay TV is because of the price (56%), the same reason for six years, so it is time for the regulator to act to promote greater competition in the pay TV market.

The only public television station that appears in the ENCCA is Channel Once of the National Polytechnic Institute, but its presence also decreased: 9% in 2015 vs. 6% in 2020-2021. In other words, Channel Once lost one in three viewers in six years.

The favorite contents of open TV in 2020-2021 were news (64%), movies (45%) and educational (35%), the latter due to the programming of Learn at home, the educational contents of the Ministry of Public Education.

The federal government pays Televisa, TV Azteca, Imagen Televisión and Grupo Multimedios for using their infrastructure and for transmitting the contents of Aprende en casa in multiprogramming. The SEP pays 15 pesos for each of the 30 million students enrolled in the school year, equivalent to 450 million pesos.

It is striking that telenovelas, the once stellar format of broadcast TV, came in fourth with just 22% of the most watched programs. In 2015, the percentage was 47%. Although fiction and melodrama are still attractive, the audience is opting for series and not long soap operas.

Precisely, the Internet has already modified users’ audiovisual consumption habits. Films (52%), series (42%) and educational programs (40%) are the favorites of Internet users, that is, individual stories and short episodes by seasons. The main access device is the cell phone (89%), followed very far by the Smart TV screen (28%).

In 2020-2021, streaming video platforms were consolidated as the main applications for accessing audiovisual content. YouTube continues to dominate as a free consumer platform (83%), followed by Facebook and the first appearance of TikTok, the Chinese social network for short videos that is very attractive among young people.

When it comes to subscription streaming platforms, Netflix ranks high with 93% of people watching content over the Internet and an average of 8.5 hours of consumption per week (a year earlier, it was 7.9 hours per week). In second position is Amazon Prime Video (26%) and in third place Disney + (20%), while Clarovideo fell to fifth position with 3% (versus 11% in 2019), which reflects the vibrant competitive environment between streaming platforms.

It should be remembered that online video platforms are not necessarily competitors with each other in terms of strategy, but rather complement each other by their exclusive content offers to attract subscribers.

The evolution in the consumption of audiovisual content shows that the greater access to broadband services and the Internet, the lower the presence of television in the taste of users. TV has not been able to stop its decline among rural and urban audiences, but the news represents an opportunity to retain them and to improve the credibility of television stations in the face of the misinformation that proliferates in socio-digital networks. Watching the news is the main reason to turn on the TV.

Irreversibly, the Internet has already taken hold and shaped the audiovisual consumption habits of Mexicans, with the smartphone as the main access technology. Short videos and free content are dominated by the social networks YouTube, Facebook and TikTok; while movies and original series are the territory of video streaming platforms.

The three windows – television, social networks and platforms – are complementary; the difference is that now the user freely decides how, when and where to consume what content.

Twitter: @beltmondi

Jorge Bravo

President of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi)

In communication

Media and telecommunications analyst and academic at UNAM. Study the media, new technologies, telecommunications, political communication and journalism. He is the author of the book The media presidentialism. Media and power during the government of Vicente Fox.

Leave a Comment