So this happened … broadcast and cable viewership has now been surpassed by streaming TV services. While we were sweltering through an extra hot summer, streaming TV services took the lead on traditional means of television delivery. This past year viewership of streaming services hit a record 38.7% while other forms of media consumption dipped. This is according to our friends at Nielsen who are monitoring an unfair fight between how things were to where things are going in the TV world.
Television is undergoing a significant shift in how it is delivered to American consumers and advertisers are doing what they can to keep up. I can tell you from firsthand experience that it’s not easy.
TELEVISION VIEWERSHIP IN 2023
As always demos dictate strategy but I don’t know any agency that doesn’t layer connected TV on top of their broadcast or cable TV purchase. The shift in delivery platforms makes for a complex execution for media buyers looking to deliver compelling marketing messages with what was arguably the most effective media available in its day.
Sound familiar newspaper? You’re about to have company on the shelf of media irrelevance.
This past year has seen a dramatic shift in television viewership habits… People turned off The Bachelorette to watch shows like Suits, The Lincoln Lawyer, You, and other streaming shows that seem to be purposefully short-lived and tailored for a new audience that doesn’t have the desire for a ten-season run.
Let’s do the numbers:
Cable and Broadcast television are dying a ‘death by 1000 cuts…’ Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube TV are most dominant. They accounted for almost 18% of video viewership. YouTube TV has a bright future with a strong business model and a cash-rich owner in Google. Look for this video streaming platform to become more dominant as the world of consumer data and video streaming continues to develop. Hulu and Amazon Prime are close behind with 7% of all streaming audiences while Disney and Max both remain viable up-and-comers.
Let’s give Peacock a shout-out just so we are fair and balanced. They are not dominant as a streaming platform but they are doing all they can to make themselves competitive. Plus they have the backing of NBC which sees their future changing rapidly.
On a related front, broadcast networks are down 5.4% and cable viewing dipped by nearly 13%. These are year-over-year comparisons that point to a platform undergoing significant change.
It’s interesting to note (and fodder for a Line Drive blog) that live sports is becoming a key programming component for many streaming platforms.
HOW DO YOU BUY TV ADVERTISING?
So, what is best for advertisers who are looking to retain the impact that sight, sound, color, and motion bring to the marketing table? For now, they’ll need to buy television with both linear and non-linear platforms in play while understanding that video is still a great vehicle for conveying your advertising message. Doing so will require a lot more expertise and understanding than it has in the past.
Cable, with all the advantages it brought to the table in the past is still a viable purchase but you had better do your homework on your providers subscriber counts. Many cable ad sales divisions are emphasizing their digital and OTT products in lieu of the declining numbers of cable subscribers.
Network TV still has some punch to it depending on the programming, demo, and market you are buying. I am starting to see them come off their rates a bit as the reality of lower ratings takes hold. Their local strong suit has always been news but the days of a clear dominant player in that genre of programming are bygone. Big ticket programming on broadcast doesn’t have a lot of local availability as it’s typically bought up by larger, more sophisticated advertisers.
Meanwhile, streaming platforms are working to put an end to password sharing and toying with tiered pay options that eliminate ads. That doesn’t keep advertisers from moving their budgets to OTT strategies that carry with them the allure of data driven consumer behaviors. So … visit KBB or some other car buying platform and your streaming feeds become more valuable to a car dealership. This is very exciting to the advertising community but it’s not as accurate or as developed as some would like you to think.
For now it’s not buyer beware but it is definitely buyer be smart when it comes to purchasing television.