The Shifting (Shrinking) TV Audience

Today a word of warning if you are buying television advertising.  Especially ads on your local TV station.

I’ll start with the bottom line:  Ask for Specific Audience Numbers that tell you how many people will see your commercials.  And Beware of Fudgers.

Last month, I was meeting with a law firm and the attorney tells me he only advertises on TV. End of meeting.  His call not mine.  There were specific questions I wanted to ask him, but he got up and our meeting was over.

While I wish I could have continued the conversation, I don’t care because I am meeting with a couple of his competitors this month.

Last month I also received a new report that is the basis of this article.

The major points are:

  1. Viewing has actually increased.
  2. The reason for that increase is technology.
  3. That same technology means your ads that you place with your local TV station are being seen by less people than ever before…maybe, but probably.

This report says,  “digital streaming now represents an estimated one-quarter of time spent watching TV, closing the gap with live TV, which occupies a leading 39% of all time spent using TV content.”  3_85-1

So the trend for viewing TV is via digital streaming which is now 25% of all television viewing. There’s another number, live TV is only 39% of the time spent watching TV content?!  Alarming, but what about the rest?  The article continues, “Streaming is on par with time-shifting via DVR, which also captures an estimated one-quarter of viewing time.”

That leaves 11% unaccounted for in this report.  Unfortunately reports like this pull numbers out of the research to make their point and are incomplete.

But here’s a couple of take-aways:

Technology has enabled the viewing audience to watch what they want, when they want and where they want.  No longer is anyone glued to the TV to watch a show because that is when the show is on.

DVR’s, the technology that allowed us to Fast Forward through the commercials was one challenge local advertisers had and still have.  When Bobs Burger Barn commercials come on, we can hit the FF button and skip them.  But with these alternative methods of watching our favorite shows with streaming, there is no Bobs Burger Barn ads to skip.

Like I said at the beginning, when you, Mr/Ms Local Business Person are buying ads from your local tv station, ask for numbers on local live viewership during the time slots your ads will air.  They probably have plenty, but beware of those who give overblown estimates.

And now you know what kind of questions to ask to determine what you are really buying.

Scott Howard aka ScLoHo has 25+ years of experience in marketing , advertising, media and works directly in the radio and digital world from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Contact him at Scott@ScLoHo.net or 260.255.4357.

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