Updated Story: A Third of Millennials "Mostly Watch Online/No Broadcast TV" Says A New York Times Survey
There’s an old New Yorker cartoon, in which a fellow sitting in living room easy chair clicks at the remote to turn the TV off and intones, “So ends another broadcast day.”
The New York Times presented evidence yesterday that a lot of millennials have done the same thing, permanently.
Brian Brett, the Times’ executive director of customer research, presented data at INMA Audience Summit in Las Vegas that says 34% of Millennials “watch mostly online/no broadcast TV.” (Updated: Only 10% say they've given up on broadcast TV altogether.)
Maybe, if that statistic is right, it won’t surprise you as much as the fact that 10% of Baby Boomers say they "watch mostly online/no broadcast TV" and 20% of Generation X'ers. (Updated: Three percent of boomers say they watch "No broadcast TV" and 8% of Gen X'ers.)
Also, the survey says, about six and ten said they’ll stick around to watch an ad if they get a countdown so they know just how long they have to endure it. You’d get an answer like that for just about everything in life from an airline flight to a blind date, to, even, a song by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Well, maybe not that.
Personally this post-nasal drip, drip, drip of dire TV stats seems dubious to me. I’m not a wild defender of TV, but I absolutely believe that few people have absolutely turned off TV. Still, as an indicator of sentiment, I think stats like that say that at its core, television needs some help especially with younger viewers. (It still is your father’s ABC, by and large.)
But every upfront seems to begin with the premise that TV is dying, and ends with them dying not so much. If it’s about to kick, TV is taking its money to the grave.
And depending on what the Times survey respondents define as “broadcast TV”—this survey is either jolting (no Millennials watching “Breaking Bad" live? Or ESPN?) if respondents think of broadcast TV as anything that comes out of that big box in the living room, or a colder confirmation (if it’s that they don’t watch CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox etc. and others that are really “broadcasters.”)
The study surveyed more than 4,000 online video users, and also discloses that news sites are more popular than sports sites, and neither is as popular as sites like YouTube that just host a variety of videos.
If the trend lines seem to be speeding away from using Internet video for serious topics (52% use videos mainly for “funny videos clips,” the largest of several categories) then at least there does seem to be some strong evidence that when they get around to caring about news, many people still would like to read all about it.
The stats say if you are a consumer interested in immersing yourself in a news topic, the old fashioned idea of reading is still pretty strong, though not necessarily reading off a piece of paper. News material that is read, rather than seen in videos, is overwhelmingly considered more accurate (8% video, 43% reading), reading is better for complicated stories, (46%-19%), for clarity (51%-12%) and not surprising to me but seemingly at odds with our perception, better for access to news “right away” (43%-23%).