Digital Viewing Going Up; TV Still Has A Lock

In the great old days of the National Lampoon magazine, it sponsored a contest in which readers were invited to guess the exact time that Mamie Eisenhower would die. It turned out to a be a bad-taste joke that hung around too long and each month (as I recall), NatLamp would publish a vintage picture of a smiling, waving Mamie, exclaiming via a cartoon bubble, “Hello!!! I’m still alive!”  

Unfortunately for me (I guess,) I think of that contest every time I read a report that points that, by god, people still watch a lot more TV than they do digital video. But indeed, despite the absolute fact there has never been a better video provider than Netflix, more revolutionary than YouTube or more powerful than six-second Vines, millions and millions of people still watch “NCIS.” 

Incredible, I know. TV is not dead yet.

The latest statistical reminder of all this comes from eMarketer which notes that this year, the average American will watch 4 hours and 5 minutes of TV per day. That’s 2.1% less than the year before and, no doubt, the trend lines are going down. But TV watching occupies 78.4% of all the time Americans spend with video. By comparison, we watch “only” 1 hour and 8 minutes on digital media, a paltry 21.4% of our time.

By 2018, eMarketer says, television viewing will only take 3.hours and 55 minutes a day, the first time since TV became ubiquitous that the figure will fall below four hours.

Almost all the growth in digital video is coming via mobile screens. To me, that limits the growth prospects, though. People are watching longer and longer videos on smartphones but logically it seems there is a built-in limit to that.  I’m old fashioned, though. Most of my mobile viewing occurs because it’s the handiest screen around. For younger viewers--at least a percentage of them--it’s the only screen around.

People 18-24 spend the least amount of time watching TV--just 2 hours and 22 minutes a day this year, says eMarketer. And by 2018, their TV viewing will have declined by almost an hour daily since 2012, to 2 hours and 10 minutes. 

That’s where the big decline is happening, but it’s almost the same for the hopeless/hapless old people. Those tragic 45-54 year old folks, by 2018, will be watching only 4 hours and 10 minutes a day, down 41 minutes since 2012. Ditto with those 55-64, where there will be a half hour decline per day.

The point is that the trends are going down for every demo, just as you know intuitively. And yet, television will still have far more viewers than anything else out there. The eMarketer data points out TV will still grab 39.2% of total media spend this year. It will still get 36.8% by 2018.

Streaming media has a place at the advertising table, that is for sure. But television is still getting served far bigger portions.

1 comment about "Digital Viewing Going Up; TV Still Has A Lock".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 14, 2016 at 12:53 p.m.

    A good report, P.J. As regards ad spending, it should be noted that TV will probably account for something like 55- 60% of media spending for branding campaigns by 2018 with no other medium coming even close. This will be down slightly from the current percentage, however, when it comes to branding campaigns, TV will reign a supreme until it loses a lot more of its audience tonnage than most observers can reasonably predict.

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