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Tracking TV’s New “Golden Age” Online

If you’ve read any recent stories about consumers’ changing TV habits, it’s easy to get the wrong idea. Some reports suggest TV ratings have seen a steep decline, particularly among the coveted to 18-49 age demographic. Other research implies consumers are watching fewer TV channels on average than they used to watch. Yet each of these studies ignores a surprising truth: just as many consumers are watching TV, but they’re choosing to watch it in new ways. In fact, you might even say that TV is experiencing a new “Golden Age” online, an opportunity that advertisers may be able to seize if they know where to look. Here are three examples:

TV Views on Smartphones Are Skyrocketing
Advertisers are probably well aware of consumers’ shift to mobile. But what they may not realize is that this surge in mobile time spent is giving traditional TV viewing a boost too. According to new research from Nielsen, TV viewing on smartphone apps and websites grew by 34 minutes versus the same period a year ago, climbing to one hour and 43 minutes of viewing time.

Smart TVs Are Growing in Importance
Even as some reports suggest a decrease in viewers of traditional TV, other research points to the opposite conclusion. In fact, consumers may actually be watching more TV, but doing so using new types of “smart” and “connected” televisions. A study from Hub Research found that 72% of viewers aged 16-64 watched TV using devices like smart TVs, Blu-ray players, Chromecast or Roku streaming devices, beating out devices like PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Streaming is Beating Out Linear Broadcasts
Yet another factor in consumers’ changing TV viewing habits is the distinction between linear and streaming. While it’s possible TV viewers might be watching less linear (live) broadcasts, statistics suggest they are definitely watching lots more streaming and “on-demand” content. This is particularly true of millennials. One recent report from Horowitz Research found that in 2016 more than half of millennial TV viewers’ weekly time spent with TV was dedicated to streaming, rather than traditional, TV. This was an increase from 15% of time spent with streaming in 2012.

While today’s statistics on TV audience viewership might initially look grim, there’s absolutely a silver lining. Although there’s still work to be done to bring video advertising opportunities in line with TV, expect to see more brands embrace TV’s increasingly digital future in the years to come.