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How TV Viewing is Changing in the New Digital Age

Grasshoppers and the American public are very similar in one respect; they are constantly on the move! The grasshopper is always moving for either food or security. The American media consumer is always moving to the latest craze aka “the next best thing.”

In the world of media, that creates a big challenge for advertisers and marketers alike. An even bigger challenge for the traditional media moguls. Video streaming, or VOD, is drastically changing the way we watch television…and everyone is scrambling to keep up with the TV viewing grasshoppers and their video consumption behavior, habits and trends.

Variety reported this recent viewer survey;
• In July-August 2015 Miner & Co. surveyed 800 U.S. adults age 18-59 who are streaming or plan to stream video content this summer. The poll has a 3.46% margin of error, according to the firm.

• The ability to binge-watch TV series — which is becoming more socially acceptable is a major reason why consumers love subscription VOD services. About 87% said they have watched or planned to watch three or more episodes of a series in one sitting while vacationing this summer, and 76% agreed that binge-watching is now commonplace for their families and friends while on holiday.

• Summertime rituals are skewing toward binge-watching TV series on streaming services — and away from such classic pastimes as curling up with a good read and basking in the sun, according to a new survey conducted by New York-based research and consulting firm Miner & Co. Studio.

• Moreover, 65% of users with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other Internet VOD services agreed that they’re going to movie theaters less this summer “because I can stream most of the shows/series I want to watch,” while one-fourth said they’re watching less cable and satellite TV programming this year because of streaming.

• Netflix and YouTube are the most popular streaming-video services, used by 90% and 93% of survey respondents, respectively. Another 77% said they stream episodes from TV network websites.

There are several observations I’d like to make in analyzing those trends noted above;

First, “binge watching” is not as bad as it sounds. It’s certainly not in the same category as binge eating. The simple fact is, we like to see things to their conclusion. I’ll admit, I watched the entire season of House of Cards in one weekend this past February. Heck, I binge watch college & pro football for 18 weeks a year! Television broadcasters and streaming services that provide the whole enchilada at once, are more likely to capture our viewership. Just like DirecTV’s NFL Sunday ticket that delivers me every NFL game on Sundays!

Secondly, VOD will never replace television as a mass medium for quite some time…for 2 key reasons. Television offers so much of the “must see TV” like major sports and big event television. The recent republican debate on FOX News had a record 24 million viewers. That’s unbelievable for a cable channel! The second reason is that television is the most affordable entertainment option in America! Whether you have cable, a satellite service like DirecTV or watch broadcast TV over the FREE airwaves…television is very inexpensive. You get a whole month of television choices for less than the price of one Dallas Cowboys or San Antonio Spurs game ticket. The American consumer loves value!

Yes, the grasshopper effect by American viewers will be challenging for media companies and advertisers alike. But I’m mindful of history. In the early 1980’s, the VCR came along and people predicted the end of the local movie theater. They said people would stay home and wait for movies to arrive on VHS tapes. Well, movie theaters are doing better than ever for a multitude of reasons. Television will figure it out, make adjustments and keep on being successful…..for one reason…..the next best thing hasn’t been introduced yet!

Bob Wills

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