An Accenture study suggests that television viewing and purchase intentions are declining as a result of rapid adoption of mobile devices and online services. In some countries, including the United States, fewer than half those surveyed reported watching broadcast or cable television shows, movies or videos on television in a typical week. Meanwhile, data from homes with TiVo that access online video services show that only just over a quarter of all their viewing is of television at the same time that it is transmitted.

“The battle for consumers’ eyeballs and time is intensifying, viewership continues to disperse, and we are starting to see the impact on the TV as a screen in the home,” said Mitch Cline, the global managing director of the Accenture Electronics and High-Tech Group.

“Craving an always-on, always-connected lifestyle, consumers increasingly are using other consumer electronics devices in their daily lives to access the entertainment that only TV once provided,” he continued. “While consumers will no doubt continue to buy TVs, consumers’ preferences are shifting. They are rapidly substituting other screens, such as laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones, to view media content.”

The Accenture research is based on a survey of more than 10,000 consumers across 10 countries, conducted in September 2011. It is statistically representative of the general population in France, Germany, Sweden, Japan, and the United States, and representative of urban populations in Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa.

Over a third of all those surveyed reported acquiring a smartphone in the previous twelve months, with a further quarter planning to get one in the next year. Some 7% had purchased a tablet computer during the year, with 12% now owning one and 17% planning to buy one.

As consumers can access entertainment through more devices, apps and cloud services, their television use and purchase intent are declining.

In countries for which there is comparable data, being the United States, France, Japan, China and India, the percentage of consumers watching broadcast or cable television, movies or videos on television in a typical week has fallen from 71% in 2009 to 48% in 2011.

Consumers are using multiple devices for entertainment, including to watch shows and videos. In a typical week, 33% of consumers reported watching shows, movies or videos on personal computers, with 10% watching such video on their smartphones.

The most frequently cited change in behaviour among those that used online services was that almost a third of those had stopped or almost stopped renting or buying DVDs, rising to 38% among those in the 18-34 age group.

Among those aged 18-35, 29% said they shared more personal media with family and friends, compared to 9% among those aged over 35 years.

Some 16% of those aged 18-34 had terminated or were considering terminating their regular television subscription service, compared to 9% among older users of online services.

It is necessary to note that surveys of self-reported behaviour or intent do not necessary reflect actual activity or subsequent purchasing, but the latest Accenture study is from a five year series and the overall trend appears clear. As consumers have access to more media devices and more online services, they become less reliant on traditional technologies such as television.

So how does this square with industry reports that people are generally watching more television than ever? One possibility is that people tend to over report their usage of newer and more aspirational technologies and are less aware of their consumption of more traditional media, like television.

However, surveys such as this may also be evidence of a real effect, which appears to be more noticeable among younger consumers.

A further reference point is research released by TiVo showing that consumption of recorded television and programming delivered online is surpassing television viewership among their subscribers.

Nearly two thirds of viewing on web-connected TiVo units is now delayed television or on-demand video delivered over broadband. TiVo does not break out how much is simply time shifted and how much is online viewing.

This is based on anonymous second-by-second viewing data tracked across some two million TiVo devices. On those devices, only 38% of viewing is of television as it is transmitted. For TiVo subscribers that access Netflix, Hulu Plus or YouTube, live viewership is even lower at 27%.

“We all know the way consumers watch TV is quickly changing, especially when it comes to the growing consumption of Internet delivered content,” said Tom Rogers, the president and chief executive of TiVo. “As people watch less live TV, the television industry is being challenged like never before to meet the needs of viewers.”

“The reduction in time spent watching live TV has huge implications for commercial ad delivery, how consumers search and find programs, and the role of networks in the carriage of shows, all of which require the industry’s increased focus.”