From time to time, media reports on the latest tectonic shift in digital devices and the associated increase in time we spend online are a prophesy - the death of all TV viewing is imminent. Statements like this one recently, "the steady increase in online traffic is cannibalizing TV viewing and effectiveness," have been uttered by pundits periodically over the past decade or more, driving hysteria throughout the industry with marketers left to wonder if it is truly and finally the end of TV advertising as we know it. Isn't it inevitable?
Turns out the answer is 'yes' and 'no'. TV viewing behavior has been permanently altered, and the change (while glacial vs. 'shock and awe') has been sweeping. That said, the net real effect on TV's pivotal role as THE video medium has been minimal – indeed, online viewing has been growing in tandem with not at the expense of overall TV viewing. BOTH online and TV platforms are witnessing record engagement numbers, with television still very much at the helm. Indeed, traditional, living room, TV consumption has grown year-over-year in the U.S., and continues to dominate as consumers seek out appealing entertainment and information. With growing consumer appetite for content and increasing dexterity with mobile devices, adoption of smartphones and tablets will continue to rise, but ALL indications are that television will remain the glowing centerpiece in the living room for the foreseeable future.
To this point, Nielsen, recently published its Q1 2013 Cross Platform Report with findings that not only support this view, but prove it 10-times over. The report found that even for infrequent TV watchers, total traditional TV viewing was nearly 6x the volume of online video consumed. In other words, conventional TV video viewing dwarfs video watched online.
Most of us don't want to admit it but our tablets get the most use, as a video-companion, when we are in front of the television. Alongside Nielsen's findings, Accenture's Video-Over-Internet Consumer Survey released in April found that regular use of tablets while watching a television set has increased from 11% to 44% year over year. The interesting data point is the fact that tablets are being used at a higher rate for searching broadcast television specific content while watching. Turns out tablets like TV just as much as you do
Industry experts like Jack Myers reported on the Nielsen findings, and are calling attention to the gaining strength of TV vs. newer screens, citing that tablets appear to be cannibalizing desktop viewing! Not television viewing. Another interesting takeaway is DVR usage, which has gained a 79% increase over the last four years, but even DVR usage ads up to only 8% of total time we spend watching television.
The evolution in TV consumption behavior thus seems only to reinforce the screen's pole position in "the race for the living room", indeed, actually lending itself to heightened TV engagement. The expanding impact of connected and Smart TVs allow us to keep what we love about TV –premium quality video content on a big screen – now enhanced by the Internet. Fusing what's best about each, we've been able to create an optimal viewer experience, giving consumers the video they want with the navigational ease of the Internet. The ability for real engagement with your TV looks fated to continue, with penetration of Smart TVs reaching 40.2 million homes by 2016.
Alas, for as far as the eye can see, the first screen is in first place.
 The Cross-Screen Platform Report, Nielsen, June 2013.
 Connected TVs Reach One in Four Homes, eMarketer, January 2013
Jacqueline Corbelli is the co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of BrightLine, an advertising and marketingfirm, which creates and implements interactive TV (iTV) advertising strategies that engage target consumers in a two-way dialogue with brands, such as Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, L'Oreal, American Express and Kellogg's. Accounting for 95 percent of all iTV activity, BrightLine is recognized as the market leader in exploiting the latest digital technologies to create interactive brand experiences for television viewers. Jacquie can be reached at email@example.com
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