Today’s media world is much more splintered.
The percentage of U.S. homes with DVRs has been hovering around 50% for several years. It may never hit 60%. People with multimedia devices are using them more and more, but these devices are also still in less than one-quarter of homes (as are enabled smart TVs). Subscription video-on-demand has been growing, and stands at 50% penetration for the first time. But this too may never go much past 60% penetration.
In short, everyone doesn’t get everything anymore. And as more and more formats become available over the next few years, even fewer people will get everything, or even most things.
What does this mean? Well, television might be available everywhere, but the same viewers aren’t. Some are here, some are there, some are over there. Previous methods of drawing samples might need to be revisited, not to mention ways to evaluate media usage even among standard demographic age groups. Consumers whose media usage was once relatively similar if they were in the same few demographic categories may no longer be as cohesive as we think. Large groups of broadly similar consumers now get their video content in substantially different ways.
Some things worth considering:
-- Television is a fundamentally different medium to DVR owners than to viewers without DVRs, even when both groups are watching live TV. But I have seen precious little research even attempting to understand the differences.
-- What is the difference between the viewer who has half of her ad-supported television viewing on DVR and watches much of her prime-time programming after 11 p.m., and her demographically similar counterpart who watches the same programming on live TV during prime time?
-- How are 25-year-olds who watch a lot of traditional television different from those who watch much of their TV content online or on multimedia devices?
-- How is the Adult 25-54 viewer who watches 10 hours a week of “The Big Bang Theory” on TBS or “Criminal Minds” on ION different from the same type of Adult 25-54 viewer who watches 10 different programs on multiple networks over the same 10-hour period?
-- What are the difference between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime viewers compared to one another, as well as those who subscribe to more than one of them?
-- Are viewers who can be reached over and over again on the same network any different from viewers who can only be effectively reached via multiple venues? Do they relate to advertising differently? Is advertising wear-out completely different for each group?
We can speculate on these things, but this is where research needs to go now.
We can’t continue to simply lump people with dramatically different media access and viewing habits into standard traditional demographic categories. You will get answers, but they will often be less meaningful averages that miss what real folks are actually doing.
In the olden days of television measurement (pre-2007), I believed single-source measurement was the way to go. Now I do not think one company can or should be the gold standard for all-platform measurement. Change is happening too quickly, and research needs to turn on a dime.
Let’s not forget that no one cared much about researching what C3 actually measured back in 2008 because it was designed as a one- or two-season band-aid until post-buy computer systems could incorporate minute-by-minute ratings. That was eight years ago, and we are still stuck with C3 and the equally meaningless C7. That’s what happens when one research company controls the marketplace currency.
TV might be everywhere, but really good research is still nowhere near where it needs to be.