Despite the myriad choices DVRs and internet TV offer, viewing habits have remained strikingly conservative. Though shows can be watched more or less on demand, nearly 85% of programs are viewed when they air "live," or with just a small delay—enough to wash one's hands or fire off an email, researchers say. The traditional cultural practice of TV watching may be so resilient because people are remarkably unaware of their own behavior, the Economist reports.
Viewers respond to surveys saying they watch way less, and way more on DVR, than they do, in part because they de-emphasize the social aspect of TV. People want to watch shows they like, but more important, they want to watch them together—so they settle for what's currently playing. The restricted choice actually makes it easier to get on with the act of social TV-watching.