Old-School May Beat NewFronts For Young Viewers

Young people may watch less TV these days, but they still watch a decent amount: 23 and-a-quarter hours a week.

Now the downside: 18-24 year-old viewers watched about two hours and 20 minutes less per week or about 20 minutes less per day -- in the fourth quarter of 2012 versus a year earlier, according to Nielsen.

Not all people are leaving TV. Nielsen says viewers aged 35- 65 and older are actually watching more up 19 minutes a week for 35-49 year-olds, 97 minutes for 50-64, and 72 minutes for 65+.

Overall TV viewing is flat to slightly up, according to some estimates.

This may have TV executives, at, say, CBS, giving quiet fist pumps. Some have long felt that older viewers are still valuable because they continue to watch TV on traditional platforms. (This is also somewhat ironical as CBS is perhaps closing in on its first seasonal win in the young key 18-49 demo in years).



Networks do have a major hand either way. Big-brand network names are highly visible on all kinds of digital platforms -- mobile, video-on-demand, subscription-video-on-demand, and highly touted video websites. True, there is new competition, but the competitors scale, digitally, is still in the nascent stage.

Dozens of major digital players including YouTube, AOL, Yahoo and Hulu (co-owned by three of major TV network groups) -- have touted scores of new TV/video content during their NewFronts presentations. Some have offered traditional TV-like 30-minute shows; some have offered shorter shows.

Much of this content would seem to target younger video customers now making themselves available for digital advertisers. But again, will there be a sizable mass of viewers for marketers to throw money at?

Digital video math still works strongly in favor of traditional big TV broadcasters: 18-24 year-olds watch more than 23 hours a week of traditional TV. On all digital video platforms -- Internet, mobile and otherwise -- 18-24 viewing comes to 2.5 hours a week.

Fighting for that slim attention among dozens of new pieces of video content will be a tough job in 2013-2014.  If marketers want to experiment and be a little inefficient, daring, or ROI-challenged with a small portion of their media dollars, they should go right ahead.

1 comment about "Old-School May Beat NewFronts For Young Viewers ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 7, 2013 at 12:46 p.m.

    Older viewers only have value if they continue to stay alive. The presumption that younger viewers will acquire the habits of older viewers, someday, seems flawed to me. The network chieftains are again whistling in the dark. I am reminded of the Spamalot line, "I'm not dead yet!"

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