Commentary

Speaking In Media Tongues: Digital 'Views' Versus TV's 'Average Audience Per Minute'

You have to wonder why it took this long for traditional TV to take  a shot at YouTube’s recent claimthat “YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.”

YouTube also touted this during its NewFront presentation -- and then some more.

“I’m happy to announce that on mobile alone YouTube now reaches [emphasis added] more 18- to 49-year-olds than any network -- broadcast or cable,” said Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube. "In fact, we reach more 18- to 49-year-olds [in the U.S.] during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined.”

One thing for sure: “reach” isn’t “viewing” -- specifically not “average minute audience viewing,” a metric TV networks use to sell advertising.  You know, how TV networks make money.

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Time Warner Cable Media, at its own upfront presentation, went further. Nielsen data, it said, shows that TV accounts for 95% of average video consumption (the average audience per minute), with PCs at 4%, and mobile smartphone video at 1%.

Better still, Turner added, millennials do 88% of their video viewing on TV.

We can think back to the glaring example of an NFL football game that ran this past season on Yahoo.

Yahoo claimed 15.22 million unique viewers. But that was digital-media speak, not average minute audience.  Measured that way, the audience was around 2.36 million -- tiny next to the 19 million or so viewers that regularly watch broadcast network NFL games.

The difference between digital and traditional TV continues to be one of languages -- “views” or “unique viewers” versus “average minute audience.” Digital views or unique viewers can be counted with little-to-no reference to time or duration

Say what you will about traditional versus new measurement, but mixing these apples and oranges -- right now anyway -- doesn’t make sense.

They make a nice business fruit bowl. Just watch your upfront indigestion.

3 comments about "Speaking In Media Tongues: Digital 'Views' Versus TV's 'Average Audience Per Minute'".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, May 10, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.

    Absolutely, Wayne. The digital media world has loved to bombard the world with "big numbers". But big is not meaningful...they's just big numbers.

    But big numbers are not the same as meaningful numbers. Here's a bit I wrote looking at Lady Gaga's "yuuuge" numbers from video views... Glad to see that the networks are fighting back against the stupidity. http://www.atomicdirect.com/blog/communication/an-axiom-for-new-media-big-numbers-are-not-the-same-as-meaningful-numbers/

  2. brian ring from ring digital llc, May 10, 2016 at 3 p.m.

    Thank goodness that so many are now finally writing about this. It's like nails on a chalkboard to see such sloppy analysis out there. Finally, Nielsen wrote about it their 2015 Year in Sports Media report. (Feb 2016.) The next step? eSports PR teams, which also make this error (intentionally, I guess?) and have succeeded in confusing such media outlets as USA Today.  http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/05/league-of-legends-popularity-world-series-nba

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 10, 2016 at 3:36 p.m.

    One might understand that YouTubes' CEO doesn't understand the numbers, nor how TV is bought and sold, but is this also true of the "researchers" at YouTube who used Nielsen stats to back up their absurd claims. Or do they think that their audience---presumably mostly ad agency time buyers, media directors and advertiser media execs are blithering idiots? Perhaps, the CEO asked---or demanded--that her staffers "cook the numbers" so she could wow the audience, but doesn't Nielsen owe its other subscribers an explanation when its data is so badly misrepresented----or is YouTube's money too good to pass up?

    The digital guys and gals keep telling us that all that matters is "data"----especially "big data". Perhaps they should take a look--a close look--at the data and find out what it really means. Big numbers don't always impress. Sometimes less is more.

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