Comparable Worries? Smartphone Eclipses TV In Key Demo


Nielsen on Thursday (5/25) released its top-line findings from its Q4 2016 Comparable Metrics Report, and the overall picture is a rosy one for the TV industry. However, the portrait requires a closer look. There’s some significant issues in a key advertiser demo for TV, and it’s great news for digital marketers looking to siphon more dollars away from broadcast and cable budgets.

RBR + TVBR OBSERVATION (Full text below, for Members Only): Take heed, C-Suiters: millennials may be desired, but your programming is tired.

The core purpose of Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics Report, the audience measurement giant explains, is to address three basic concepts equally applicable to all categories of media measurement: How many, how often, and how long.

Q4 2016 marks the first full quarter reporting on the effects of crediting enhancements to the mobile panel, specifically with regards to the time spent metrics (all of the “How Long” section plus Mins/Day (Users) under “How Often”).

In August 2016 a legacy crediting rule on Android devices that capped usage at 30 minutes was removed. Now, if a panelist uses an app or visits a website for more than 30 minutes at a time, the entire length of the session is now credited.

This change also went into effect for iOS devices in March 2016.

All of the findings were derived from the best available data in the reporting periods of Sept. 26-Dec. 25, 2016 and Sept. 28-Dec. 27, 2015. As a result, one can compare and align metrics with The Nielsen Total Audience Report, allowing the two reports to be used concurrently to gain a better understanding of trends in the marketplace.

What does the overall snapshot look like?

Overall, Nielsen touts that 92% of all viewing is done on a TV screen.

Adults spent 509 billion minutes viewing on TVs in Q4, and an additional 63.6 billion viewing on TV-connected devices.

But, reach among persons 18-34 for TV comes in at 79%, compared to 89% of all adults.

Those young adults spend more time on their phones.

And, the trends suggest a continued dip in reach for this key demo.

As shown above, adults aged 18-34 comprise 30% of the adults that use smartphones for video entertainment.

By comparison, of the total sample of adults 18+ that use TVs for video entertainment, some 29% are in the 18-34 demo.

Should the alarms be sounded?

So far, with the focus on the total audience of persons 18+, there’s just mild concern.

AMC Networks SVP/Research Tom Ziangas isn’t highly concerned about the trend.

“The fact of the matter is that viewers use the TV screen for the bulk of their viewing and spend more time doing so than all the other platforms combined. Sure, viewers have more options today, but when looking at platforms in a comparative fashion, it’s clear that consumers choose the television as the primary vehicle for content.”

Peter Katsingris, Nielsen’s SVP/Audience Insights, commented, “What we found was that, contrary to the popular narrative that smaller screens were taking away time from the TV glass, when we looked deeper we found that overall time spent viewing on the TV had the most minutes among every age or ethnic demographic looked at. In some cases the share of viewing was as much as 97%.”


RBR + TVBR OBSERVATION:  TV viewership is strongest among older demographics, and those viewers have lesser appeal among marketers compared to millennials. With cord-cutting a continued concern and the rise of smartphones as a visual entertainment delivery device, broadcast and cable channels will continue to suffer. AMC Networks of all networks has seen its audience shares tumble, with a focus on zombies and a Breaking Bad prequel dominating AMC since fall 2015. AM radio in 1975 comprised the bulk of consumer listening. The Walkman in 1985 was omnipresent. America Online in 1995 was nearly universal as an internet connectivity tool. Read between the lines: the TV screen will be used for the bulk of viewing, but it won’t be viewing of a cable channel and may not be viewing of a broadcast TV channel. Take heed, C-Suiters: millennials may be desired, but your programming is tired.