Vast Difference In Program & Ad Viewing Highlighted By Millennials Stats

There was a time when television program viewing was a perfect surrogate for ad viewership. Since the remote control — the first ad-avoidance technology — that surrogacy relationship has devolved to next to nothing.

The good news for producers of television and video programming is that the content form is alive and well, and much in demand by young and old alike.

The bad news is that this newfangled World Wide Web distribution channel has not only stripped power from legacy distributors and given power to new technologies, but has provided the most effective ad-avoidance tools ever.  Content viewing and ad viewing are officially divorced.

Viewing and ad consumption by young adults and teens today suggest it won’t be coming back soon, unless a very different business model emerges.

Turner Research released some new data this month on Millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) and their younger siblings, whom Turner labeled “Plurals” (under 18) that shows the next generations of T/V (television/video) consumers still love T/V, but do not want to have commercials shoved down their throats in, as the Coneheads might say, “mass quantities.”

Turner’s October 2015 survey revealed that more than a third of Millennial Internet users’ primary type of video content is full TV shows, tops among different types of programming. Some 18% of respondents said full-length movies were the main type of video content they watched; for 12%, it was music videos.

Nielsen Total Audience Report Q3 2015 via eMarketer says that those aged 18 to 34 spend 15 to 21 hours a week on live TV or time-shifted DVR, while Baby Boomers who grew up with traditional TV spend 39+ hours a week on live TV or time-shifted DVR.

Defy Media reported in March 2015 that 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 67% of teens thought there were way too many ads on traditional TV, though TV ads were harder to ignore than online video.

An August 2015 report from eMarketer concluded that “Millennial viewers demand more control and customization of viewing experiences, which leads to more time shifting and binge-viewing. Smartphones are also becoming a popular viewing device for millennials, due mainly to their portability and convenience. Also Millennials have a low tolerance for poorly executed video ad creative, meaning marketers need to be savvy about media placements and more authentic and entertaining with ad content.”

I would conclude that as we see an increase in the number of cord-cutter and cord-never households, bundled cable and satellite providers will need to change their model to adapt to the changing needs of consumers, particularly younger viewers. 

Like landlines that used to charge $100/month and almost overnight were replaced by VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services from Vonage, cable/broadband discounted triple play and even Skype at a fraction of that monthly cost, the T/V delivery model must roll with these shifts, or will quickly become as irrelevant as copper-wired telephony.

Finally, I’d like to applaud Turner for announcing the formation of Turner Ad Lab to refine the linear TV and digital video ad experience for both consumers and advertisers. Led by an industry advisory board, the group’s goal is to reimagine better consumer experiences on all platforms, while strengthening advertising effectiveness for brands.  This is just the time to put the focus on the changing needs of the consumer experience and on restoring value to advertisers so not just programs, but ads, will be viewed.

3 comments about "Vast Difference In Program & Ad Viewing Highlighted By Millennials Stats".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 20, 2016 at 5:22 p.m.

    John, there never was a time when TV program viewing was a surrogate for ad viewing. People always avoided ad content to a considerable extent and our annual, "TV Dimensions 2016", documents this fact with a surprising number of commercial attentiveness studies using cameras and other "observational" methods, that go back to the late 1950s and the 1960s-1970s, All that's happened is that it's a lot easier to avoid commercials now and  this, coupled with the huge increase in the number of ads aired per hour---also noted in "TV Dimensions 2016"---has caused people to increase their avoidance activities.

  2. Peter Losh from Undisclosed , January 21, 2016 at 6:34 a.m.

    It ain't just millennials who hate ads ads and demand more control. I'm a crusty old baby boomer who dropped his cable subscription and opted for streaming entertainment instead. But unlike most millennials, I still prefer to view it on a big screen. My older sister followed suit this year, dumping her expensive cable bundle.

    i now find ad-driven content intolerable, and can't watch a complete sporting event -- soccer or international feeds aside -- because of the constant commercial interruptions. Every hour-long show is closer to 42 minutes to allow for all the advertising, and some stations like TBS have even accelerated the playback of movies and shows to cram in more ads. We must be completely beaten down as a viewing public to tolerate, and pay a king's ransom for access to, such a shoddy entertainment experience. No one wonder streaming feels so liberating to those who've caught onto it.

  3. Pierre Grandmaison from Teads, January 21, 2016 at 9:49 a.m.

    Interesting article John- great quote: "Video Content viewing and ad viewing are officially divorced": fully agree ;-) 

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