Live events retain their resonance on television despite the vast choice of video available on demand. Live television events are the preferred type of broadcast programming for four out of ten viewers around the world, proving more popular than any other type of programming, including programming delivered on demand.

That is the view of consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France and the Nordics, according to research carried out by Vitreous World for Nevion, a virtualised media production company that was acquired by Sony in 2020.

The results show that live broadcast events are the most viewed by four out of ten viewers, peaking at 54% for respondents in the United States.

Live broadcast events are viewed by 40% of those in the regions surveyed, which is more than scheduled programming on television, at 29%, or available on-demand through online services, at 31%. That apparently applied across the age ranges, with live event broadcasting the preferred choice of 58% of those aged 18-24.

It is also a shared experience, with one in five people saying that they watch live broadcast events with someone else in-person at least once a day. Overall, 45% of respondents reporting liking to watch live programming together with other people in the same room, rising to just over half of those aged 25-34.

A major benefit of live broadcasting is the unpredictability offered by watching a specific show in real-time, with just over half of of respondents saying that they enjoy the drama of witnessing major events and moments as they happen.

When it comes to live event genres specifically, 64% of viewers enjoyed watching sport, with 57% of 18-24 year olds citing sport as enjoyable to watch live, rising to 68% of 35-44 year olds and the same percentage for those aged over 65

The second most popular live programming was news, with 54% of respondents saying they enjoyed watching news live.

“Our results show that live event broadcasting is not only more popular than on-demand and scheduled programming, but that it is a powerful unifier across generations,” said Olivier Suard of Nevion.

While many people may prefer to watch pre-recorded programming at a time of their choice, the unique proposition of television is the ability to show events as they are happening, whether that is news, sport, or a constructed reality event or competition.

For broadcasters, that may be their enduring advantage in a world of an ever-increasing choice of viewing.

Thriving together: Live broadcasts unite generations in shared viewing experiences is published by Nevion, a Sony company.