Young people under the age of 30, as well as some older people, are turning their backs on linear television. Among those interviewed, one group—specifically younger individuals with a higher level of formal education and living in urban areas—is doing so rapidly and now uses VOD services almost exclusively. Another group is doing so at a slower rate and over a longer period, while using various forms of media simultaneously. Taken as a whole, all age groups and education groups currently continue to watch linear television programmes, which continue to be an integral part of people’s daily information and entertainment experience. More than 60% of Austrians still watch television ‘daily’.
VOD services are replacing certain categories of linear television programmes. This process will most likely accelerate as soon as the majority of households meet the technical prerequisites for migration. This is still not the case. Only 12.5% of those interviewed currently use VOD services ‘very frequently’. However, judging from the enthusiasm young respondents displayed for Netflix, Amazon Prime and similar services, the future trend is obvious. At present, such services are already used ‘very frequently’ by almost one third of individuals under the age of 30.
Key arguments in favour of VOD products cited by respondents include: a much greater freedom of choice and control over form and content, broad independence in terms of viewing time, independence from programme schedules, the advantage of mobility offered by smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as several qualitative criteria, such as a much wider choice of content that includes the latest releases (including foreign-language releases).
Linear television programmes are seen as retaining a decisive advantage only in broadcasts of live events and in the quality of current affairs programmes.
Arguments against linear television do not apply equally to news reception, however. Adolescents and young adults are not giving up on traditional news programming. Even young people access news very frequently, through various channels. Some 47.7% of individuals under the age of 30 read or listen to news daily. Due to the low level of authenticity currently associated with news spread via social media, conventional media are again receiving more attention: examples include ORF (Austrian television), other public broadcasting corporations and even daily newspapers with a reputation for quality. Such media channels serve as important references for validating sources. The concept that news from the internet could ever completely replace conventional news sources currently has few adherents.
Accelerated news reception habits are nonetheless posing a real challenge. Almost half of the Austrian population watches videos lasting less than five minutes: this indicates the fast-paced world that is now the norm for online communications and video consumption, and which leaves news programmes with little opportunity to present or analyse topics in any detail. At the same time, young people perceive conventional news programmes to be less attractive in style and orientation of content.
In this context, YouTubers and vloggers act in some cases as interpreters or guides for younger people, by helping to distil the complexity of daily news streams, by pre-selecting topics and by providing commentaries from a personal perspective. Nearly a quarter of all individuals below the age of 30 regularly follow YouTubers and vloggers. The huge appeal of these services and the loyalty of their viewers appears to stem from their authenticity and the way they personalise the content and language disseminated by official news outlets, which are typically seen by young people as aloof, impersonal and linguistically antiquated.