Cord-cutting is increasing, and younger viewers are leaving pay-TV in droves. In the future, no one will watch TV on the TV -- right?
Apparently not, as the youngest generation (children 2-11 years old) are still mostly watching TV on the TV. According to a fifth-grader interviewed by the Associated Press on this issue, the large family flat-screen TV is bigger, and the couch is comfier, and that makes it the preferred video viewing device for her.
The AP report reviews data from a new study from The Nielsen Co. that found that in the last quarter of 2016, viewers aged 2-11 averaged 17 hours of live (not time-shifted) TV per week. This compares to four and a half hours watching video on other devices during the same quarter.
So even among the post-millennial generation, the TV still has a place. But it's still important to be on other devices, because that 17-hour average is 90 minutes lower than the same time the previous year.
Broadcasters mostly recognize this, and are increasingly offering their content on a variety of devices. But TV continues to be the center of the viewing universe. Long-running children's show Sesame Street is a good example of this approach. The show, originally shown on US public broadcaster PBS, is now also available on HBO. TV still accounts for the majority of its viewership, at 40%. But 18% are viewing on tablets, 14% on mobile phones and 25% on PCs and other connected devices, including streaming from the show's YouTube channel.
For broadcasters struggling to identify the best approach for balancing new digital platform development with linear broadcast, that's probably a good example. But there are additional considerations for each demographic group.
For children, getting them intrigued by a show is important, and digital devices offer a great platform to enable that, according to several broadcasters. Most use digital platforms to promote shows, post teasers and offer additional show-related content before the actual broadcast. The goal is to engage with potential viewers and drive them to watch when the show airs on the TV. Some broadcasters will even pre-screen the first episode of a new show online before they air it on television. Again, the goal is to engage with the audience.
Digital channels offer another advantage, for children particularly. This is a generation that has never known the restriction of scheduled content. It has grown up with on-demand content of some sort always available. Not having content on-demand risks alienating them. It's also helpful to maintain that engagement if children miss an episode. They can simply catch up on-demand, and the broadcaster won't risk disengaging with them because they missed an important event in the story line.
Much of this advice is also true for older audiences. Even though viewership remains on the TV to a large extent today, using digital channels to promote and engage audiences is important. For broadcasters targeting millennials, being on Snapchat and Facebook is critical for promoting the show and encouraging sampling from that young audience. (See Ubiquitous Content Is a Fallacy, Say Content Experts at CES.)
Nielsen's research again exposes the conundrum for broadcasters targeting younger audiences, from two years all the way to 35 years of age. They cannot focus on TV alone, but they cannot understate it either -- it's still the device on which most video content is being consumed. And yet these audiences are shifting a sizable percentage of their viewing on to other devices, and those are important for promotion and engagement. Finding that perfect mix of channels and platforms to satisfy customers while optimizing investment and development resources remains a formidable challenge.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation