Apple, Google and Hulu are working on technologies they say will transform how people watch television. Nobody told the couch potatoes.
Traditional TV watching has retained its popularity even as the options for online and on-demand content delivery multiply. While broadcasters themselves are experimenting with new delivery models, their core business — beaming scheduled programs into viewers' living rooms — has proved resilient.
"TV viewing is at an all-time high," said Philippe Dauman, chief executive officer of Viacom, the owner of MTV Networks and Comedy Central.
In the United States, the world's biggest TV market, the amount of time spent watching TV has risen, according to ratings company Nielsen. The average American viewer watched two more hours of TV per month in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period last year. In the second quarter, the year-on-year figure held steady.
Still, new video options may push the TV market toward a tipping point. The Nielsen numbers capture the trend. While watching TV at home rose 0.6 percent in the first quarter, so-called timeshifting, which includes digital video recorders and video-on-demand, advanced 18 percent and viewing on mobile phones climbed 51 percent.
But for now, the absence of a mass exodus from TV sets to devices like Apple's iPad is encouraging broadcasters.