Do Streamers Attract 'Light,' Casual TV Viewers?

Fresh, original content on streaming platforms continues to drive usage -- if not new subscribers -- partly to please hardcore TV consumers who have almost five hours per day of TV-streaming viewing.

But what about those "light" TV viewers?

For TV marketers, these consumers have always been hard to get and highly desirable consumers.

Some definitions of "light TV viewers" designate them as those who watch less than two hours of TV a day, comprising roughly 31% of adults 18 to 49. Factoring into this over recent years has been the high rate of broadband access of these viewers, as well as cord-cutting.

"Light" TV viewers could also be defined as older and perhaps more financially secure consumers who don’t have the need or desire for day-in, day-out viewing.

We might be thinking about these consumers in a pre-2000 context, before the rapid rise of digital media -- social media, YouTube, and of course, more recently connected TV/streaming services. And you might think the fractionalization of TV usage --- if not media overall --- makes it all the harder to find these viewers.



Now, with regard to these low-usage viewers, think about reach -- especially for cable TV networks.

In 2014, for example, the average Turner network reach -- TNT, TBS, CNN, for example -- had a 30% to 35% reach of U.S. potential viewers.

Now, with cord-cutting and other media distractions, it has now plummeted to around 15% to 18%. Where did those viewers all go -- and more narrowly, where did all those potential light TV viewers to those networks go?

In this regard, Warner Bros.' "The Batman," which was originally released in theaters March 4, is only now becoming available on sister premium streaming service HBO Max starting HBO Max starting April 18 and on HBO on April 23.

The more high-usage media and frequent movie-theatre consumers -- young moviegoers -- rushed to see the movie when it opened in theaters. Its first weekend (March 4-6) launched with a massive $134 million, and according to Box Office Mojo Worldwide, it is now at $735.2 million.

All good. But where is the potential audience now for "The Batman” on HBO Max? Are those potential viewers of the Caped Crusader "light" TV viewers, perhaps?

We know the whole backstory of WarnerMedia releasing theatrically intended movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max for all 2021 -- all to give the streamer a quicker launch. But what is it now -- and what is the intent?

If the movie business continues to genuflect to all possible distribution partners -- including movie-theater owners -- does this mean that for the near-term hardcore streaming entertainment audiences for some content gets a back seat?

No problem if that is the case. Casual, light TV and streaming viewers are still important. But they are only one piece of the puzzle.

3 comments about "Do Streamers Attract 'Light,' Casual TV Viewers?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 13, 2022 at 10 a.m.

    Interesting subject, Wayne. At the outset---say 7-8 years ago and for a while after there was no doubt  that the early streamers were mainly younger, better educated and, hence, relativeley light "linear TV" viewers. They merely shifted much of their viewing time---especially in prime time---to Netflix and some other streaming venues.

    But now, with about 80% of the population streaming to some extent and older, heavier TV viewers joining in, the demos of the streaming audience are less oriented to the light viewing aspect and more to various mindset and program genre needs. And, increasingly, streaming is looking more and more like "linear TV" where content is concerned. As sports and news slowly migrate ---at least in part---to streaming, the transformation will be even more complete.

    The same can be said for advertising. Initially, streaming was a haven for those who hate commercials---perhaps a fifth of the popultion. But now, it is increasingly a question of subscription costs with many streamers now being receptive to ad-supported services if this allows them to save a few bucks each month.

    Net, net, I'm not so sure that streaming is the way to target light TV viewers---as that remains an elusive dream for advertisers unless they are willing to use other media---certain forms of audio, certain types of print media, etc. to do that job for them. It's very hard to find any TV platform that targets light viewers as the result, usually, is that such platforms generate very tiny audience levels and this has a negative impact on their bottom lines.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, April 13, 2022 at 10 p.m.

    Maybe I misunderstood the lede, but the neighbours put some streamers on their front door and porch and they attracted sunlight.

  3. Ben B from Retired, April 13, 2022 at 10:42 p.m.

    I guess light TV viewers don't want to be courted for some reason. As for me, the TV is on 24/7 I have to have sound on I don't like erie silent at all or pitch-black either as I see weird things when it pitch dark, plus I can find almost anything on TV. Why I sleep with the TV on all night I got that from my grandparents as they slept with the TV on all night.   

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