Dad, What’s a PVR?

More Canadians now catch their favourite TV shows online than by personal video recorders and video-on-demand combined.

According to SRG’s most recent quarterly study of Canadians’ digital habits, 50% of online Canadians watched TV online at some point in the past and 25% say they did so in the past week, compared to 13% saying they watched a show on a PVR or cable on-demand (10%) in the past week.

For young Canadians, online TV is where it’s at—PVRs and On-Demand are becoming the technology of their parents’ generation. Twice as many young Canadians use their PCs to watch TV content than PVRs and VOD combined. Among those over the age of 30, however, VOD and PVRs edge out online viewing.

But most online viewing is still catch-up according to research—53% watched online most recently because they missed a show they liked on regular TV. But convenience of online is a strong factor now for 37%.

News still is the big driver to major network TV sites in Canada: 42% of online Canadians say the reason for their last visit to one of, or was to check the news. But visits to watch full TV shows on network sites is getting popular: 23% of visitors to Global go there to stream a full-episode show; 13% of visitors to CTV visit to stream a full show and 9% for CBC.

Among other findings: HD sets, HD Boxes and PVRs each hit milestones in Q4 2009. 6 million households – nearly half of all Canadian households – now have an HD set, doubling from 3 million just over 2 years ago. HD boxes and PVRs hit the 3 million and 2 million household milestones respectively.

Most Canadian consumers believe that the future of TV is on the Internet but they are not about to give up cable or satellite TV yet. Three-in-five believe that all TV shows will be on the Internet someday and a majority says they’d choose the Internet over cable if they had to give one up. But despite these sentiments, only 7% would drop cable if they could get a comparable service from Apple or similar.

Technical: These findings come from SRG’s independent Digital Life Canada syndicated study. Digital Life Canada is based on quarterly interviews with 1,000 online Canadians aged 12 and older since Q4 2006. The Q4 2009 research was conducted in December. For more information, you can contact us at