People Are Watching More TV – Media, Consider Yourselves Alerted


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Steve Lanzano, President & CEO, TVB

TVB June 2013 Vlog Stacey Schulman

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Nielsen’s Cross Platform Report is something of a rarity these days. It’s a pretty ritualistic, standardized quarterly media update that people actually read. But these are frantically busy media people – they have little time to sort through all the numbers. So they are the ones most likely to miss the details that show just how nuanced our industry really is.

Nielsen shook things up a bit this time, spending a large part of the report

focused on a topic that they haven’t spent a considerable time covering – VOD. In fact, they put it right there in the report’s title: Viewing on Demand – The Cross-Platform Report, September 2013.

But it’s important to look beyond the Executive Summary, past Nielsen’s feature presentation. Because after the prose and infographics about VOD (although don’t look for any mention of how Nielsen plans to include VOD viewership in C3 ratings – that detail isn’t there) – hidden away within the tables of the report is a nugget of information about traditional TV that needs to be noticed.

People are watching more television. That’s right – traditional television use is up, in spite of Americans buying more and more things that have screens other than traditional TVs.

In their second quarter 2013 release, Nielsen reports that on average, viewers spent an additional three minutes with TV content each day when compared to last year, and a minute more than they did five years ago.

Wait – more time? Have we added time to our clocks? Well…no. Scientists have added only 24 seconds to our clocks due to orbital changes since 1972. 24 extra seconds in over 40 years. So if the universe isn’t behind this, it’s likely thanks to the television experience itself.

Let’s face it; the experience of TV has never been better.

And that’s motivated people to spend more time with their TVs, despite all of those other screens, and often because of them, as more people find that they can be productive with their second screen life and still enjoy their first screen. Interestingly, it’s the Internet that’s suddenly finding itself a victim of this fragmentation. Reach for viewers of video on the Internet fell off quite significantly – 7 ½% versus the prior year, while it was up for mobile viewers substantially – over 36%.

What does this mean for a local station? Good news at both ends of their core business. Traditional sit- back, passive living room viewing is as strong as it’s ever been ¬– and growing. And the lean-forward, active viewing of on-the-go mobile viewing has come of age.

Consumers aren’t looking at these multiple viewing options as competitive. They’re complementary. You’ll watch live content on your mobile device because that’s the best screen available for where you are—on-the-go—yet when you get home, the 60-inch HD on the wall will take over.

The bottom line is that Americans will spend their time with the best quality product available, while the supplement will remain the supplement. That’s why no matter how many different screens we have at our disposal, anything other than the home television will always be the second screen.


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