TV couch potatoes get up and go!

My grandfather was never a couch potato, neither while watching TV, nor in life. He was a hard-working farmer with little patience for laziness. He was born in 1896, and got to live to experience his 99th birthday. In today’s rapid technology evolution, it is humbling to consider that he spent his first 62 years without a TV! He and my grandmother bought their first TV in 1958, just in time for the football World Cup that was hosted by Sweden. My grandpa, grandma, my dad and his sister all gathered around that 19-inch black and white TV screen to root for Sweden in the final again Brazil! Even though Sweden lost, the TV had won its place in their home.

Fast forward to the 1970’s, and not a lot had changed. They had a color TV now, but my grandfather only ever watched the news at 7:30, so whatever me and my younger sister were doing, we had to leave the room so that he could take in the live broadcast without interruptions. Half an hour later, he would get up from his armchair, switch off the TV, and me and my sister could come back into the living room and continue to play.

Since then, consumer TV and media habits have evolved dramatically. In our 8th annual ConsumerLab TV and Media report, which represents the views of over 1 billion people around the world, we describe these shifting consumer habits and attitudes. These insights also put us in a unique position to demonstrate the implications and explore future trends. One important tool that enables us to do this, is by defining groups of people, each with different user habits when it comes to TV viewing.

ConsumerLab’s six TV user groups were carefully created based on our research into consumers’ actual TV and video habits:

TV user group -What is that?

Ericsson-blog-TV-media-ConsumerLab user groups


  • The TV couch traditionalist (or TV couch potato if you will) is a shrinking group of consumers that spend almost all of their TV and video viewing in front of the big TV screen, and thus almost no viewing on any other screen. In 2010, one in five belonged to this group, but by 2020, we expect this group to have shrunk by almost 50 percent, with only 1 in 10 being a TV Couch Traditionalist.
  • Our second, and rapidly growing group, the Screen Shifters, watch a lot of content across a wide range of screens – and shift between these screens all the time. They spend around 60 hours per week watching all kinds of content, and they are the highest spenders on TV and video services too. We expect this group to make up over one quarter of all consumers by 2020, which is an increase of almost 80 percent since 2010.
  • The third group - the Computer Centrics – just like their name suggests, focus a lot of their viewing on the desktop and laptop computer. On-demand viewing is rather important for this group, but since you don’t really have to use a computer for that anymore, this too is a shrinking group of TV viewers, and we expect this group to only make up a little more than 10 percent of the population by 2020.
  • The fourth group - the Mobility Centrics- has exploded in size since our measurements begun and is a group with a heavy smartphone viewing habit. By 2020 we estimate almost 30 percent of all consumers will belong to this group, which is an almost 500 percent increase since 2010.
  • As so often is the case, we also have a group of consumers with rather mixed viewing habits – and we call this group the Average TV Joes, a group that also has shrunk in size. By 2020, only a bit more than 10 percent will belong to this group, which will be a decrease by almost 40 percent.
  • Finally, we have TV Zeros, a group of consumers that does not think that TV viewing is very important, and hence they spend very little time watching any type of TV and video content. My grandfather’s half an hour per day TV habits would have positioned him in this shrinking group of people. We estimate that by 2020 this group will have lost more than 40 percent in size, landing at just over 10 percent of the population.


So to re-hash – by 2020, only 1 in 10 is going to be a TV Couch Traditionalist. The reasons are not that consumers do not enjoy watching TV and video on the big TV screen, but rather that the availability of, for example, smartphones has become so widespread that over 90 percent of the population now has access to one. Additionally, we see more and more services enabling even the most technology-challenged individuals to watch TV and video content across screens.

Just like there were no TV Couch potatoes back in 1896, there will not be many left in the future either, and thus history and future will merge! The only question that remains is – will Sweden and Brazil face-off in the next World Cup final too?

Please dive deeper into our six user groups in the TV and Media report. Or listen to an Ericsson News podcast on the entire report with me and my colleague Andre Gualda:

Listen the podcast here

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