Media Buying Increasingly Complex

Advancements in viewing technology and increased competition for eyeballs have resulted in a more fragmented TV landscape environment, increasing the complexity in media buying and selling for a medium that generates billions of dollars in ad revenue per year, says a new study from ComScore.

Now TV viewers can watch TV from their television sets as well as an array of devices including their computers, smartphones and tablets, each with its own purpose and distinct advantages. And, there are a growing number of content options available, such as satellite, video on-demand (VOD), and digital subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

For TV viewing today, consumption habits appear to be changing at an accelerating rate, says the report. Certain segments of the viewing population are leading this shift, with the most notable group being Millennials. This generation wants to watch what they want, when they want and where they want, and their tech-savviness and willingness to explore their options is driving massive change. TV viewing audience as we know it today will look drastically different in the future..

Millennials (i.e. 18-34 year-olds) spend one-third of their original TV series consumption time watching on digital platforms, with computers driving the majority of that activity. Generally speaking, the older the viewer the greater percentage of time spent watching on “traditional” TV sets, says the report.

About 1 out of 6 Millennials said they did not watch any original TV series from traditional TV sets within the past 30 days, a significant trend highlighting the potential for linear TV viewing to erode over time. Since this age group is considerably less likely to watch TV via a TV set, their incidence of viewing this content on computers (44%), tablets (49%) and smartphones (31%) is considerable and substantially higher than older age segments.

Millennials are also significantly more likely to watch TV from an internet-connected TV device (e.g. Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast) as well as via a gaming console (e.g. Xbox, PlayStation, etc.) or Blu-Ray Player, suggesting that when they do watch original series content on a traditional TV set, they often do so through a digital connection and content streaming.

Online TV Viewing

More than half of viewers cite schedule flexibility and convenience as the main reasons for watching TV content on the internet. These edged out all other reasons, including the ability to skip commercials, the ability to binge watch and the lower cost for consumers.

When segmented by age, the reasons for watching TV shows on the internet begin to fragment. A significant portion of older viewers might only tune in online after they missed an episode on regular TV, while their younger counterparts are more likely to proactively seek out shows on the internet for other reasons, such as saving money or watching fewer ads than on traditional television, says the report.

Younger generations are more likely to watch an original series online, with 45% of them watching via the internet, including 13% doing so exclusively. By comparison, just 17% of people age 55+ watch at least some original TV series content online.

Online TV Viewing Drivers (Main Reasons For Watching Original TV On The Internet)


% of Respondents

Prefer to watch on own schedule


It’s more convenient


I can skip commercials


Prefer to watch multiple episodes all at once


There are fewer commercials


Less expensive than cable and other pay TV services


Someone in HH watches another show at same time


At work/commuting when show starts


I travel a lot


Source: comScore, October 2014

Time-Shifted Viewing

Younger viewers are more likely to shift their TV viewing time and watch a show after it appears live. 46% of Millennials’ viewing is typically watched in a time-shifted manner compared to just 35% for 35-54 year-olds and 30% for those older than the age of 55. But age isn’t the only indicator of viewing habits, as 45% of those who subscribe to a paid digital video service such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video partake in time-shifted viewing vs. just 27% among non-subscribers.

Subscribers to paid digital video services are much more likely than non-subscribers to binge view TV programs over the course of a month (87% vs. 69%). Furthermore, subscribers to these services are significantly more inclined to engage in heavy binge viewing activity: 15% binge view six or more times per month, compared to only 6% of non-subscribers.

84% of viewers prefer to binge watch television shows from their TV set – in some capacity – as opposed to other screens. More than half of those viewers that prefer binge viewing from their TVs favor using their DVR, perhaps in part due to the ability to fast forward through commercials. Trailing only the DVR, TV via video-on-demand (VOD) is another highly preferred method of binge viewing given its convenient integration directly into the pay TV service provider’s interface and remote control.

Time-Shifted TV Viewing by Demographic (Typically Watch Original TV Series)

Time Shifting Segment

>7 days after airing

4-7 days after airing

Not live, but within 3 days

Age 18-34 (46%)




Age 35-54 (35%)




Age 55+ (30%)




Paid Digital Video Subscribers (45%)




Non-Paid Digital Video Subscribers (27%)




Source: comScore, October 2014

Pay TV Subscriptions

According to the report, Millennials are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to not subscribe to cable or other pay TV services. In fact, 18-34 year olds are 77% more likely than average to be a “cord-never” household, having never subscribed to pay TV, and 67% more likely than average to be a “cord-cutter” household, where they once subscribed but no longer do.

Of homes currently without pay TV services, a large percentage of single-person households (60%) and households without children (52%) have never had a pay TV subscription. These “cord-nevers” are a new phenomenon resulting from a growing number of online video options and the rising costs of pay TV, which have made subscriptions less justifiable for smaller households.

Digital Video Subscriptions

About 4 in 10 households subscribe to a paid digital video subscription service, with Millennials having a significantly higher subscription penetration, with nearly half belonging to Netflix.

  • Netflix is the leader (32%)
  • Amazon Prime Instant Video (19%)
  • Hulu Plus (9%)

Among Netflix subscribers, 44% prefer watching through internet-connected TV devices such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Computers (27%) and gaming consoles/Blu-Ray Players (21%) also have strong levels of preference among the Netflix subscriber base, says the report. And, among 1-2 person households, Netflix penetration is less than 25%, but penetration jumps significantly to well over 40% among households of three and greater

To download the complete PDF report from Comscore, please visit here.

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