Television viewing habits continue to shift. Have your advertising expenditures shifted too? It’s time to examine the trends for your business.

200 Channels and there is nothing on

The TV shift is real in 2017 and will only continue in the years ahead. Television viewing habits have been changing for years and as consumers, we really don’t care how we get our video content.

But for businesses that have relied on television advertising to be the lifeblood of their business, they may find themselves on life support unless they wake up and make some changes.

Saturday night my wife and I were taking care of 3 young ones, grandkids ages 8 months to 4 years old.

The parents are around 30 years old.  Neither watch local television.  Disney Junior is the channel of choice when the boys are up.  When the parents get to watch the TV in the family room, they are selecting something from Netflix.

Saturday night after the boys went to sleep, my wife and I were flipping through the line up and finally settled on HGTV for a little while, not because we wanted to watch it, but because of all the options that were coming up, it was the most viewable.  No offensive language in case we were visited by the grandkids coming downstairs for a snack and nothing that required an investment of uninterrupted time like a movie.

Granted my wife and I are Baby Boomers and we grew up with local television and later cable networks, but the past few years the networks decided that Friday and Saturday nights were not worth programming and they usually fill the prime time hours with reruns or fluff.

I’ve got a story I wrote about Baby Boomers, media and marketing coming up in a couple of days that talks about how to effectively reach us and invite us to spend our money with you and it has some information from Mediapost that should be eye-opening.

Right now, I have another Mediapost article in front of me that has some disturbing news for the television industry and if you are spending money advertising on TV, read on…

It’s titled: Good News, Bad News For TV, Video And Advertisers

The author went beyond the short term, headline grabbing information and dug through 3 years of data and here’s what he wrote:

Good News for Traditional TV – Adults spend more than five times as much time watching traditional TV than watching video on all other screens combined. Those under 25 spend about twice as much time with traditional TV than with other screens.

Bad News For Traditional TV – Two years ago, adults spent 10 times as much time, while those under 25 spent four times as much time with traditional TV. The gap between traditional TV and video on all other screens has been cut in half over the past two years — and continues to narrowing dramatically. This is also the first time I can recall when traditional TV viewing was lower in the first quarter than the fourth quarter of the same season.

In summary:

  • the big screen is still watched more more than our small screens (phones, tablets and laptops).
  • the drop in viewership of traditional TV, both cable and local has accelerated faster than nearly any other advertising medium in history in just the past two years. I can not think of any other advertising medium that has had a 90% decrease that survived.
  • the future is not very bright for traditional TV.  While the quotes above mention the under 25 year olds, I also know that the 25 to 40 year olds are following that same pattern of ignoring the TV networks, especially the local channels as I’ve witnessed in my own family.

Here’s more from the Mediapost story:

  • Good News For Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime

  • Good News For Mobile Video

  • Bad News For TV Advertisers – DVR and time-shifted viewing remains solid, particularly among traditional TV’s main audience —viewers 35+. But live viewing, which is the only way advertisers can know who is exposed to their commercials, is declining sharply, particularly among younger viewers.

Now where I live, in a conservative city in the midwest, Fort Wayne, Indiana, change is a little slower than on the east or west coasts of our country.  That may be why business are continuing to use the local television stations, even when they have challenges with justifying their return on investment.

I met with a local business owner recently that told me he spent over $50,000 for two years advertising on of our more popular local TV stations and could only track one job, worth a few hundred bucks from that expenditure.

You probably noticed changes in your viewing habits over the recent past.  I noticed a few years ago when the Emmy awards were featuring more and more programs that were not on ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC and that evolved to shows that were not even on cable. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon received 125 nominations for the next awards.  ABC, CBS & NBC together only have 115.

UPDATE: After I wrote and published this article, a couple more articles arrived in my email.

The young adults time spent watching TV is dropping fast.
Infographic: Young Americans Turn Their Backs on Traditional TV | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

So what are they watching?  Take a look.
Infographic: Smartphones Beat TV for Young Adults in the U.S. | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

The viewership habits have been changing for some time. Pretty soon the businesses that advertise on traditional TV will also change.  Because the TV Shift is Real.

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.