News yesterday, that for the first time in 20 years, television households in the US declined. This comes at an interesting time for the television industry as it grapples with the forces of new media technologies. The news is being touted as the death knell for television, and while a decline for the first time in a long time is definitely notable, how significant is a move from “everybody” to “nearly everybody”?
A report we released today shows that the debate about traditional versus digital television consumption is misplaced. We also show a decline, but its qualified as those who only watch television programming through a television – dropping in the last year from 60% to 55% of 12-65 year olds (a decline of more than 9M people). More interesting, and perhaps where the dialogue needs to shift, those that watch programming through both traditional TV and digital options has grown to more than 75M people in the US between the ages of 12-65. The rate of increase isn’t as dramatic as those only watching through digital options, but that group is still relatively small (and definitely worth monitoring).
Our data also showed that demand for content is not waning — those leaving television are not only turning to digital options, but are looking to alternative forms of consumption, like Netflix, Kiosk rentals and video games. In fact, among traditional-only TV viewers, subscriptions to Netflix have increased by 26% and the incidence of gaming has increased by nearly 20%.
The debate needs to shift from “which one is winning” to how traditional and digital can commingle. The advantages for advertisers are numerous. The “hybrid” TV viewer is a highly desirable demographic group that also happen to be very active on social networks. They are also influential consumers making their use of social media a powerful tool for advertisers to enhance their brand messaging.