Talking About TV: Most Talk YouTube -- Especially Younger Viewers

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 23, 2023

Nielsen just released the latest version of The Gauge, its monthly TV video viewing time-spent report of what Americans watch on their televisions across broadcast, cable (including satellite) and streaming delivery. One of the big headlines from the report is that Google’s YouTube now captures 7.9% of all video viewing on U.S. televisions, more than any other streamer.

Another headline from the report is that TubiTV just passed the 1% threshold of all TV viewing, joining Pluto TV as the second ad-free streaming service to have exceeded that threshold. In total, streaming now represents 34.3% of video viewing on TV.

There's no question we are watching the TV and video viewing landscape change before our eyes.  And much of streaming content carries no or few ads, so that time spent on ads within streaming services is significantly less than the total time spent on streaming. Still, moves like Netflix's new ad-supported tier and Amazon releasing more of its hot shows to its free, ad-supported streaming service will help close that gap quickly.



I believe that everyone in the media and ad business today now needs to ask themselves, “What is TV?”

Today’s TV is certainly not what I grew up with as a kid in a small coal town in western Pennsylvania, watching on one of the early cable systems in the late 1960s and 1970s -- and wondering why any viewers would accept ads on cable networks like MTV and ESPN, since we had to pay to get them. Now, with the fast-growing world of streaming, we all must change how we define TV, it, how we buy and sell ads on it -- and, critically, how we measure it.

In that process, here are some of the issues we need to pay attention to:

Linear still dominates TV viewing. The future is not a bad one for TV companies. Linear delivery still dominates TV viewing in the U.S., and will for many years. Viewing on “diginets,” the free over-the-air channels delivered by broadcast companies, is already as big as streaming when you focus on ad delivery, and these channels are growing at 20+% per year.

Not all content is the same. There’s no question that the content on YouTube is not like what you watch on CBS or NBCU. Nor are all shows on more traditional channels of equal or even similar quality. Reruns of “America's Funniest Home Videos” (with lots of cats on skateboards) isn’t going to be as valuable for most brand advertisers as NFL games or “The Bachelor,” but if that’s where a brand’s audiences is, there’s certainly a price they will pay to reach viewers there. The same for top influencers on YouTube or top streamers on Twitch.

The future of TV will be defined by audiences, not producers. Fundamentally, our industry’s future will be defined by its users, not producers. Viewers will choose our winners and losers, voting with their time and attention.  We need to be ready for that future, open to how viewers see “TV,” and make it accessible and comparable to all other TV ad products, with lots of intelligence and automation, and trusted, independent and verifiable measurements.

What do you think?

5 comments about "Talking About TV: Most Talk YouTube -- Especially Younger Viewers".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, March 23, 2023 at 8 p.m.

    Dave, I hope you are off the mark with "(the) future will be defined by its users, not producers".   My wife would have to find a new workplace!

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 23, 2023 at 8:27 p.m.

    The two go hand in hand, John and Dave. Throughout TV's history program content producers---in the old days---"sponsors"---were guided by the reception their brainchilds received---as measurd by Nielsen and a few other research companies.  Often they were wrong---even when pre-testing seemed to indicate otherwise with the result that a show that got lower than tolerable ratings it was cancelled. But not always. Sometimes a network or producer had such faith in  a series idea that they were patient and were rewarded by slowly building hits which started out with uninspiring ratings---like "Seinfeld", Cheers" and others I could cite ---but gradually developed a fan club and became hits.

    The difference today is that the strength of competitive programming is a much reduced factor. In times long past there were only three contenders in most time slots--ABC, CBS or NBC. So it mattered a lot what the rival network---or networks--were programming against you.Many  fine shows died because they ran up against more popular programs on a rival network. Also the nature of your lead- in could be a vital factor. In case after case, a network was able to construct an evening's program lineup where one popular show "fed" many of its viewers to the following show on the same network. In many cases this, alone, made the difference between a fairly successful show and a mega hit.

     But today things are different. Now we have 170 + program sources per home---not three, plus an indie or two and a PBS outlet. Now, we can delay content and watch it later. Now it only matters a little what the other broadcast networks  or cable channels are programming against you---assuming that they even consider you as competition. In short, except for situations like the competing early AM  and evening news shows and the cable "news"/ commentary" channels, we often select our content without regard to what other program suppliers are offering. That's the major change. But rest assured, if a series or special is met with disppointing audience levels today that still sends a message to the network and the producers involved.

  3. Robert Eckelman from ConnectADtv, March 25, 2023 at 9:12 a.m.

    Good article thankyou.

    Please review paragraph 2 it says ad-free, these are not ad-free.

    The YouTube share has actually fallen due to Nielsen changing methodology. They have stripped out Youtube TV and with the new methodology Nielsen is stripping out all VMVPD & broadcast viewing and attributing it back to cable & broadcast. In the past, they were double counting that viewership. Only Nielsen can do that!

    I like what Gauge says but I do question the accuracy. Do you know the sample size of Nielsen Gauge?

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 27, 2023 at 9:28 a.m.

    Robert, it's  my understanding that Nielsen is using a combination of its current peoplemeter panel and a subset of those homes within the panel where it can measure streaming as well as linear TV. The sample size is perfectly adequate for this kind of reporting----probably about 55,000 people ( note to Nielsen: please correct me if I'm wrong )---as well as finer detail about high rated shows on many of the channels.

  5. Claudio Marcus from Comcast, March 30, 2023 at 12:12 p.m.

    Consumers have the right to watch whatever they want, but I think it is up to marketers to decide if the type of content and relative quality matters based on their own business, marketing and campaign objectives. Why be forced to equivalize all video impressions when a flexible approach that acknowledges differences in impression quality and fit for purpose can be accomodated. If some marketers find that social, UGC or even adult content videos are okay for them fine, but other marketers may have good reasons or valid research to prefer being associated with premium content.

    An apples to apples comparison based on the lowest common denominator such as any "valid" impression does not reflect any sense of quality. While we can all agree that there is some outstanding UGC and some pretty bad studio produced content, as a whole one is far more professional than the other. You can drive a car or ride a bike and derive a lowest common denominator such as number of trips, and even though people may prefer one or the other based on different objectives, they are still not the same in terms of ability, comfort and cost to get you to your destination. If you need to go a distance in a timely manner, regardless of weather conditions, one is clearly superios. Fit to purpose matters.

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