Recently, some interesting research findings were released by Nielsen as part of its latest round of Total Audience Reporting. The analysis shows that even as the number of stations received by U.S. TV households has increased to an average of ~192 in 2018 — up nearly 50% from a decade earlier — the number of channels actually watched, on average, has dropped to fewer than 7% of them.
Furthermore, stations watched has declined in absolute terms, not merely in terms of percentage share. The average number of stations tuned into by households as of 2018 (~13) was fewer than the number of TV channels households were tuning in to a decade earlier, when the average number was just over 17.
These findings underscore the continuing fragmentation of the linear TV ecosystem even as the number of alternative viewing choices increases, thanks to non-linear TV options such as OTT (Internet-direct) and VOD (video-on-demand) subscription services.
And here’s another takeaway from the research: These data underscore how dispensable most linear TV channels — not excluding ones affiliated with legacy networks — have become for most TV households.
What are your habits regarding watching linear TV these days? Do your practices mirror the Nielsen findings? How have your habits changed over the past few years? Please share your experiences with other readers.
Just a few years ago, who would have been willing to predict that YouTube’s user base would outstrip China Central Television, the world’s largest TV network?
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened: As of today, around 2 billion unique users watch a YouTube video at least once every 90 days, whereas CCT has around 1.2 billion viewers.
Consider that in 2013, YouTube’s user base was hovering around 1 billion. So that’s quite a jump in fewer than five years.
Here’s another interesting YouTube factoid: Nearly 400 hours of video content is being uploaded to YouTube each and every minute.
For anyone who’s tallying, this amounts to 65 years of video uploaded to the channel per day. No wonder YouTube has become the single most popular “go-to” place for video content.
But there’s more: Taken as a whole, YouTube viewers across the world are watching more than 1 billion hours of video daily. That’s happening not just because of the wealth of video content available; it’s also because of YouTube’s highly effective algorithms to personalize video offerings.
One of the big reasons YouTube’s viewership has expanded so quickly goes back to the year 2012, which is when the channel started building those algorithms that tap user data and offer personalized video lineups. The whole purpose was to give viewers more reasons to watch more YouTube content.
And the tactic is succeeding beautifully.
Another factor is Google and its enormous reach as a search engine. Being that YouTube and Google are part of the same commercial enterprise, it’s only natural that Google would include YouTube video links at the top of its search engine results pages, where viewers are inclined to notice them and to click through to view them.
Moreover, Google pre-installs the YouTube app on its Android software, which runs nearly 90% of all smartphones worldwide.
The average run time for a YouTube video is around three minutes, with some 5 billion videos being watched on YouTube in the typical day.
Considering all of these stats, it’s very easy to understand how Internet viewing of video content is well on the way to eclipsing overall television viewing before much longer. As of 2015, TV viewing still outpaced interview viewing by about margin of about 56% to 44%. But when you consider that TV viewing is stagnant (or actually declining a bit), while interview viewing continues to gallop ahead, the two lines will likely cross in the next year or two.
What about you? Like me, have you found that your video viewing habits have changed in the direction of YouTube and away from other platforms?
This chart shows the penetration trends over the past four years:
2013 Internet-connected TV penetration: ~50%
What these figures show is that almost three fourths of U.S. households now have an Internet-connectable television, which is up about 50% since 2013.
With more consumers wanting to set up their own in-home networks, TV manufacturers saw this trend developing and began flooding the retail market with “smart” televisions. As a result, most any consumer looking to purchase a TV set these days is likely to end up with one that is Internet-connectable, whether they feel they need it or not.
This is a back door into the world of consumer IoT; both the TV and the smartphone are the prime facilitators for the adoption of the Internet of Things in the home.
But like with many other technological waves, actual adoption rates can lag. For many people, watching TV on Internet-connected equipment is still only “potential” viewing rather than actual viewing. Just as some consumers who own the latest smartphone models never use them to watch videos, homes that replace a TV set with the latest Internet-connectable model don’t necessarily use the added built-in functionality — at least initially.
Still, one suspects that with this technology now at people’s fingertips, it won’t be much longer before we start seeing actual usage catch up with the potential that’s there.
In theory, people love to have choices. But in practice, does having many choices always matter?
In the world of TV viewing, the answer seems to be … not so much.
New findings from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report finds that the average number of channels received by American viewers of TV is just over 200. But on average, people view fewer than 20 different TV channels during the course of a month.
That means that people are typically watching just 10% of the channels available to them.
[For purposes of the Nielsen report, “TV viewing” is defined as watching TV live or via DVR/time-shifted viewing.]
Trends shifting over time.
In a related report published by Marketing Charts, traditional TV viewing has declined in nearly every age group over the past five years.
Here’s how those stats break down:
Ages 12-17: Weekly TV viewing is down ~36% over the past five years
Ages 18-24: Down ~38%
Ages 25-34: Down ~26%
Ages 35-49: Down ~12%
Ages 50-64: Down ~2%
Ages 65+: Up ~5%
Clearly, younger generations are finding outlets for their leisure time other than traditional TV viewing. What’s more, time-shifted viewing remains only a small fraction of all TV viewing — no better than 90/10 split in favor of live TV in any of the six age categories tested.
So we have a combination of tradition asserting itself – people continuing to watch relatively few TV channels – along with some changing behaviors that promise to continue to upend the traditional TV industry.
More findings from the new Nielsen and Marketing Charts reports can be accessed here and here.
Television viewing among 18- to 24-year-olds reaches its lowest level yet.
The latest figures from Nielsen are quite telling: The decline in TV watching by younger viewers is continuing – and it’s doing so at an accelerating pace.
Looking at year-over-year numbers and taking an average of the four quarters in each year since 2011, we see that the average number of hours younger viewers (age 18-24) spend watching television has been slipping quite dramatically:
2011: ~24.8 hours spent watching TV weekly
2012: ~22.9 hours
2013: ~22.0 hours
2014: ~19.0 hours
It’s nearly a 25% decline over just four years. More significantly, the most recent yearly decline has been at a much faster clip than Nielsen has recorded before:
2011-12 change: -7.7%
2012-13 change: -3.9%
2013-14 change: -13.6%
So far this year, the trend doesn’t appear to be changing. 1st quarter figures from Nielsen peg weekly TV viewing by younger viewers at approximately 18 hours. If this level of decline continues for the balance of the year, watching TV among younger viewers will be off by an even bigger margin than last year.
There’s no question that the “great disappearing television audience” is due mainly because of the younger generation of viewers. By contrast, people over the age of 50 surveyed by Nielsen watch an average of 47.2 hours of television per week — nearly three times higher.
Lest you think that the time saved by younger viewers is going into outdoor activities or other recreational pursuits and interests, that’s certainly not the case. They’re spending as much time using digital devices (smartphones, tablets and/or PCs) as they are watching TV.
So, it’s a classic case of shifting within the category (media consumption), rather than moving out of it.
This year a single 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl TV broadcast will cost a cool $4 million.
And that’s just for the placement alone — not the dollars that go into producing the ad.
The high cost of advertising is directly related to Super Bowl viewership, of course, which is predicted to be north of 100 million people this year.
Still, $4 million is a really hefty sum, even for major brand advertisers. Just how big is underscored in some comparative figures put together by Jack Marshall, a reporter at marketing e-zine Digiday.
In lieu of spending $4 million on a single ad spot, here’s how Marshall reported that the promotional money could be spent in alternative ways:
14 billion Facebook Ad Impressions – According to digital marketing software firm Kenshoo, right-hand column “marketplace” ads on Facebook averaged 27 cents per thousand impressions during 2013. This means that for $4 million, an advertiser could run a Facebook marketplace ad every second of every day for the next 469 years.
3 billion Banner Ad Impressions – In 2013, average online display ad CPMs were running just shy of $1.30, looking globally. Applying that figure to the U.S. market translates into 3 billion display ad impressions for your $4 million spend.
160 million Sponsored Content Views – The typical charge is ~$25 to distribute sponsored content to 1,000 readers. At that rate, $4 million would give you 160 million impressions (provided a publisher could actually deliver that many!).
10.8 million Paid Search Clicks – With an overall average cost-per-click of 37 cents in 2013, $4 million would cover just shy of 11 million clicks. That may be one-tenth the size of the Super Bowl viewing audience … but at least your audience would be actually searching for your product or service instead of heading to the kitchen for more corn chips and queso dip.
The Pew Research Center fields a Social & Demographic Trends survey on a fairly regular basis which asks Americans if they think certain items are “necessities” … or a luxury they could do without.
Included in the survey are a variety of items ranging from automobiles and appliances to communications devices.
The 2010 survey was conducted in May and queried nearly 3,000 respondents. The results of this survey were released in late August, and they reveal that landline phones and television sets are quickly becoming less essential to U.S. consumers.
In fact, only ~42% of the survey respondents feel that a TV set is a necessity, which is down 10 percentage points from just one year ago.
Here is what respondents reported in response to being asked whether they consider each of the following items to be a “necessity”:
Automobile: 86% (down 2 percentage points from the 2009 Pew survey) Landline phone: 62% (down 6 points)
Home air conditioning: 55% (up 1)
Home computer: 49% (down 1)
Cell phone: 47% (down 2)
Microwave: 45% (down 2) Television set: 42% (down 10)
High-speed internet: 34% (up 3)
Cable/satellite TV: 23% (no change)
Dishwasher: 21% (no change)
Flat-screen TV: 10% (up 2)
Of course, landline phones and TV sets have been fixtures of American life for as long as most of us can remember. But the Pew research shows this is now changing, and it’s especially so among those in the 18-29 age bracket. In fact, only ~30% of the younger age segment believe that having a TV set is a necessity.
As for landline phones, current government data show that only three-fourths of U.S. households have a landline phone, which is down from ~97% in 2000. Not surprisingly, going in the opposite direction are cell phones; today, more than 80% of U.S. adults use them, up from only about 50% in 2000.
The Pew survey results from 2010 versus 2009 reveal several other declines in “necessities,” but those declines are only slight and may be a result of the economic downturn. Instead, it seems clear that the major shifts are happening due to technological change, not because of the economic picture.
The Pew survey results don’t reveal too much that’s surprising … but it’s important to put some statistics to our broad hunches. And those stats are telling us that certain changes are occurring rapidly.
Woods. McGwire. Vick. Harding. Rodriguez. In the world of sports and fitness, it seems that every other day someone is falling from grace. “Larger than life” seems inevitably to be followed by “all too human.”
But we have at least one sports hero who has forged a career refreshingly clear of controversy … and who has done so for nearly a century.
When Jack LaLanne opened the world’s first modern “fitness club” in Oakland, CA in 1935 at the age of 21, no one could have predicted that he’d still be a fixture in the world of sports some 75 years later.
“I can’t die. It would ruin my image!” he’s quoted as saying. But LaLanne certainly doesn’t have to worry about his image. At 95 years old, he remains one of America’s greatest proponents of health and fitness, communicating his message of exercise and good nutrition to all who will listen.
And unlike the hype surrounding so many other sports celebrities, LaLanne practices what he preaches: He works out at least two hours each day, concentrating on stretch and pull exercises plus swimming.
The story of Jack LaLanne was not always fitness and health, however. Like Charles Atlas, another bodybuilding and fitness pioneer, LaLanne hardly grew up as the picture of strength. But it was a teen-age encounter with nutrition pioneer Paul Bragg that inspired LaLanne to dramatically change his daily routine by joining the local YMCA in the San Francisco Bay area, becoming involved in bodybuilding and high school sports, and focusing on healthy eating.
It wasn’t long before LaLanne was experimenting with new weight training equipment of his own design, attracting a steady stream of policemen, firefighters and neighborhood toughs to his family’s backyard – which would lead to opening his first fitness center just a few years later.
The list of “firsts” in Jack LaLanne’s career in fitness is certainly impressive:
The first host of a nationally syndicated television exercise show (1951).
The first person to open a coed health club (eventually to become the 200-unit European Health Spa chain, later sold to Bally). At age 41, swimming the entire length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge underwater, with 140 lbs. of equipment – a world record.
At age 42, becoming the world-record holder for pushups (1,033 in 23 minutes).
The first person to promote weight training for women and older adults.
The first sports personality to endorse vitamins and exercise equipment on the TV airwaves.
(Coincidentally, LaLanne was also one of the first sports celebrities to warn against the dangers of smoking – long before medical science would come to the same conclusion.)
The Jack LaLanne Show would continue on television for 35 years. But the then 71-year-old host was certainly not ready to retire. Instead, he’s remained active as an author, spokesperson and motivational speaker on health and fitness in the 25 years since.
It took three or four decades, but the PBS network has finally signed up for full Nielsen demographic ratings for its TV programs. Now, for the first time, marketers will be able to access and review full demo data on who’s watching what on the Public Broadcasting System – information that has been crucial in making decisions on where best to promote products on broadcast TV.
And it’s about time. For far too long, advertisers could rely only on educated guesswork to weigh the effectiveness of promoting their products and services on PBS’s leading programming fare.
Of course, PBS doesn’t present advertising the same way as do other networks, because it’s ostensibly commercial-free programming. But even though PBS is a commercial-free broadcasting service, in recent years it has offered sponsorship deals with major advertisers in the form of comprehensive messaging that is broadcast before and after the shows air.
Indeed, veteran watchers of PBS programming have noticed more extensive promo messages that have gotten awfully close to out-and-out commercials – even though they aren’t ads in the “traditional” sense.
And up until now, PBS has not officially released any extensive form of demographic data, making promotional efforts more of “crap shoot” for advertisers than anything else.
But now PBS has signed up with Nielsen for full demos. The new rating service began on PBS with the Ken Burns series on national parks earlier in the year. According to Nielsen, that documentary scored an overall household average audience rating of 3.5, with an average of 5.5 million viewers tuned in per episode. And the internals provided some interesting clues as to the age, income and educational characteristics of viewers — older, more affluent, and better educated.
Which programs are on tap for Nielsen demo ratings going forward? PBS staples, of course – Masterpiece Theater, Antiques Roadshow, NOVA, Nature and Frontline. They’ll all have weekly demographic rating information, along with several of PBS’s famed kids programs including Sesame Street and Sid The Science Kid.
What’s a little ironic about the latest news is that, after all these years, PBS has finally gotten on the Nielsen bandwagon … just at a time when when broadcast TV audience stats are mattering less and less. The ever-growing non-TV alternatives provided by the Internet have seen to that. And coupled with that, the overall audience for PBS programming has been shrinking.