In the 1980s, I worked as media director at Leo Burnett in Amsterdam, and commercial TV was at long last introduced in The Netherlands. To prepare my team and myself, I traveled to our Chicago headquarters to “learn” commercial TV trading. This was followed by a week in our London office to learn even more.
The whole marketing communications world revolved around the 30-second spot then. Campaign planning was TV first, then the other stuff like radio, outdoor, magazines and newspapers. It’s hard to believe the media world was that simple not that long ago.
Fast-forward to today. Pivotal Research’s senior research analyst and frequent MediaPost contributor Brian Wieser recently shared a bunch of numbers on the evolution of U.S. screen time from 2008 to the first quarter of 2015. And it makes for fascinating reading, if you are into Excel spreadsheets…
For instance, between 2008 and 2010, live TV viewing increased a tiny bit. But from 2010, the numbers start to go down. They are not falling off a cliff, but they are decreasing every year. And each year it seems the decrease is going a little faster.
At the same time, every other form of screen viewing — e.g., time-shifted, desktop, tablet, smartphone and multi-media devices like Xbox — is increasing. The only other decrease is for DVD viewing.
There is also data for person-hours of PC online, smartphone and tablet activity, meaning all the time people spend with these devices, including video viewing and everything else. This data shows the staggering overall increase in usage for all devices. It may be that the desktop has reached its maximum usage, but then again the desktop computer has been around the longest. Tablet and smartphone usage will double when compared to 2013. Yes, 2013!
Having said all that, if you look at the data in percentages, live TV is still King with a capital K, commanding 83% of video viewing. But in 2008, that was 93%, and 2013, 87%. See what I mean by death by a thousand paper cuts?
Although not contained in Wieser’s data, I saw recent U.K. numbers that showed how the age group 15-25 was spending their time. It won’t surprise you that this group had already moved far beyond the averages as shown in other data. And when I say “moved far beyond,” I mean of course away from live TV.
I recently shared the fact that my family and I have moved. When we were putting together my son’s room, we promoted him from a children’s room to a teenager’s room. When asked, he said he did want a TV — but only so he could hook up his Xbox. He was not even remotely interested in a cable connection.
I think that the paper cuts are going to be deeper and more numerous very quickly. It won’t be pretty.