TV Trends: Internet-Connected Devices Up >+50%, Traditional TV Down >-10% -- Pivotal Research

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Cover image for  article: TV Trends: Internet-Connected Devices Up >+50%, Traditional TV Down >-10% -- Pivotal Research

We have analyzed trends associated with the use of television alongside commercial share trends for national media owners in the United States through the end of the calendar month of April 2017 (covering the period running from April 1 to April 30 rather than the broadcast month, which ran from March 27 to April 30 this year). Complete data including time-shifted viewing and commercial impression data for this period became available from Nielsen on Monday.

Notable observations for the calendar month of April include the following:

  • Total use of television as we define it across all sources of content inputs was down again, by -5.3% on a total day basis for adults 18-49 during April, although only down by -2.1% among all households. Viewing of English-language broadcast networks and ad-supported cable was down by -10.2% for adults 18-49 and down by -5.6% for households, both on a total day basis. National TV commercial impressions delivered among adults 18-49 fell -8.1% in April 2017 vs. April 2016. For prime time alone the equivalent figure was -8.8%.
  • Consumption via internet-connected devices, including Roku, Apple TV and Google's Chromecast rose by +51% year-over-year to account for 10.8% of total TV use among adults 18-49 on a total day basis vs. 6.8% in April 2016 and 3.8% in April 2015.
  • National commercial loads which qualified for C3/C7 ratings (which exclude unencoded or otherwise non-qualifying activity in digital environments) across the industry rose to average 10.8 minutes per hour across all Nielsen-tracked programming during April 2017, up from 10.7 minutes per hour in April 2016. CBS and Disney were the only network groups with notable increases in loads, while Viacom, Time Warner, Discovery and AMC all had notable load reductions during the month.
  • Viacom produced the largest share of C3-qualifying commercial impressions during April with a 15.8% adults 18-49 share among national media owners, down vs. the year-ago period. Discovery posted the most significant gains in commercial inventory, with 7.3% share in April 2017 vs. 6.7% in April 2016, led by the flagship network and by ID. The most significant decline was at Time Warner, where declines at TBS, TNT and Adult Swim overwhelmed gains at CNN. Declines were also notable at Disney because of weak results at the broadcast network and ESPN2.

Overall, the industry-level results are negative for ad-supported national TV as a medium. Total day and prime time viewing of traditional TV programming among adults 18-49 fell by double digits for a third consecutive month, while internet-connected-device-based viewing – most of which is not ad-supported – rose by more than 50% year-over-year yet again. Viewing of premium video on PCs, tablets and mobile phones are undoubtedly accounting for some of these declines (and reported viewing might even grow if related data were included in standard measures of viewership). However, it doesn't seem likely that this data will be included in any comprehensive industry-wide total audience metric any time soon, aside from individual networks such as CBS supporting Nielsen's related initiative. We continue to believe in our maxim that television is the worst form of advertising except all those others which have been tried, at least for those advertisers focused on awareness-based media goals, and budgets are generally unaffected by changes in ratings in the short-term. Unfortunately, sentiment towards the medium worsens as commonly reported or relied-upon measures such as adults 18-49 fall, especially by the significant levels observed recently. Negative sentiment ultimately leads to advertisers' efforts to explore and encourage the use of alternative media vehicles, or otherwise establish marketing goals that are not necessarily awareness-driven.

Additional commentary and data covering share data for different types of TV consumption and commercial viewing shares for different network groups are included in the remainder of this note.


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