April 02, 2015

Death Of TV Continues Not To Happen

Every time a new study comes out and it shows some erosion of share of broadcast or cable TV, we get hysterical headlines about the death of TV.

In fact, what is changing is not consumer behavior. What's changing is what we call it.

Consumer behavior has been remarkably stable -- sadly, we're all still sitting in front of a screen watching mostly crap for 5 hours a day. But these days we call some of it live viewing, some of it streaming, some of it time-shifting, and some of it OTT (Over The Top) viewing.

There are so many new ways of delivering crap to a TV, that we are confusing the delivery systems with the behavior.

I was at a conference recently where I heard a great quote, "TV isn't dying, it's having babies."

Although live TV is still hugely dominant, the incremental growth of new forms of video delivery are continuing to have two effects: 1) over the past few years people are watching more video than ever, and 2) live TV's share of total video consumption is declining.

Nielsen released its Total Audience Report for the 4th quarter of 2014 a few weeks ago and here are some charts I made that give you a quick snapshot of what's going on.

While the definition of what it means to "watch TV" keeps changing with each new video delivery system, it's interesting to note that among the four video options in the above chart, 96% of video viewing was done on a TV, 4% was done on a web device.

One of the very interesting things in the report is the extent to which mobile devices are surpassing time spent with "traditional" online devices, i.e., computers.

The fact that mobile time has increased 60% compared to "traditional" online time is very conveniently ignored by the online ad industry and agency doofuses. Of course, if TV was dropping in proportion to mobile as quickly as traditional online, we'd be hearing even more hysterical cackling about the death of TV. But no one talks about the "death of online."

Despite the erosion of viewership because of the proliferation of new "pipes", live TV and radio still crush time spent with online devices.

Since Nielsen released its Total Audience Report a few weeks ago, they also released another report called, Nielsen Television Audience Report. Here's a graph from that report that gives you some idea of how ridiculous the "TV is dead" knuckleheads are:

As you can see, a record number of US households now own televisions. Despite all the yapping about "cord-cutters", the number of households with traditional TVs has grown year over year for the last 2 years.

In fact, households with televisions have grown by 15% since 2000, when the digi-doofuses starting declaring TV dead.  Additionally, the average household now contains, on average, more than 3 TV sets.

There are so many new ways of delivering video, that the language of what used to be "television" is now impossible to keep up with. It seems like every day new pipes, new arrangements, and new set-top boxes are making video delivery astoundingly confusing.

It's been 15 years since we started hearing the nonsense about the death of television. And yet every company in creation is now scrambling to own a piece of the TV pie.

Over time, TV's new babies will mature. Some will survive and some will die. While the business models of today's broadcasters and cable operators will certainly be challenged, consumers will not be abandoning video programming anytime soon.

Consumers will continue to consume video, and there will continue to be plenty of opportunities for advertisers.

People love television -- regardless of how it is delivered or what we choose to call it.


Cecil B. DeMille said...

My TV is smart, so I watch all video there. I go online to read, not watch.

VinnyWarren said...

As a child of TV and prodigy of the remote control, even I am cutting the cable TV cord. Because it's simply not worth it. It has degenerated into a worthless and grating reality sludge. And I will watch any old crap. Luckily Hulu + and apple TV etc have arrived on the scene, but with the exception of live sports I struggle to imagine recreating the mass audiences of yore. Though Hulu + does a great job of seamlessly integrating ads without being a pain in the ass. we shall see...

geoff said...

The point about HH's that own a TV set makes no sense to me. All US households own a TV. Those numbers are simply reflective of population growth. Even the people who have stopped watching live TV still own a TV set. Mine is getting dusty (although I'm sure I'm an outlier).

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

I don't often hear people in advertising/media/similar admit to dwelling on the things they did wrong. I am certainly of that bent altho' as I've now entered my 60s, I find I can let it go. I let one thing I considered a "mistake", not taking an upper management job offer with a very prestigious media company to be a failure on my part. It haunted me 20 years. I just couldn't shake it. I turned it down because I was burned out and fearful and the mother of two small children. At this point in my life, while I still wonder "what if?", I cut myself a break and think I was right to turn it down, despite lobbying for it and outperforming my competition. I'll never know. But isn't it funny to dwell on the perceived low points and not the highs?

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Robin S said...

IMOs It's the VCs! They have the short term bucks to buy influence/rs to drive crappy things/unfounded data into the media. Esp now. Social media has opened up the floodgates of VC propaganda. What you think?

Robin S said...

How's that Moving Pictures business doing, buddy?

Robin S said...

thank yeezus for you tube. W/o it I would not survive.

Jay Murphree said...

I agree 100%. Video viewing is as stable as ever, maybe even growing. But as advertisers (which I think most of us that follow you are,) the opportunity to reach an audience via inserting ads amongst video content is lessening, particularly for local advertisers. Worse, as original programming grows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc., the power of whatever we call this evolution of "TV" will have very little power as an advertising medium.

All that being said, please prove me wrong. I'd love to have a rebuttal to this when my clients say exactly this to my agency.

Arby said...

The ad industry is pushing device viewing vs. TV as they can't measure TV audience well, and it is not an "individual" device. In order for the dream of big data to come true, announcements need to be targetable to individuals--not families/households. This is a case of using the media to lead people where the industry needs them to be rather than any spectacular new video behavior.

Arby said...

One thing to keep in mind is the OTT and Digital Video providers have a different structure than the "old world" where content was either "National" or "Local". When a consumer watches an IPTV outlet that outlet has the ability through a number of methods (IP address, app registration, cookies, etc.) to show different announcements during the content based on geography. So you can locally target consumers while they watch mainstream programming. I'm not certain which outlets can and can't do this but HULU is a good example of one that can. The CPM like in any other case is higher based on a more specific target, just like Local CPM's were higher than National in the broadcast era. Pandora can do this for Radio, too, as an audio example.