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March 15, 2017


Say what you will about the state of television today. Traditional TV is dead. Traditional TV is going strong. Millennials hate TV. Millennials love TV. It seems that every time we peruse the trades, yet another company has released a survey or report that purports to show the latest "real" picture of TV, often contradicting reports that may have come out only days earlier. With that in mind, we thought we would highlight some of the latest findings.

On Viewership:

  • TubeMogul, which also uses Nielsen data for its analyses, reported that, despite unsurprising ongoing rating erosion between 2007 and 2015, there were actually greater schisms between types of viewers, with the heaviest viewers increasing their share of viewing, while lightest viewers watched even less in this time period. The company also found that Millennials are still watching lots of TV, the majority of which is still on traditional TV. However, they noted that younger Millennials (aged 18-24) watched almost 44% less traditional TV on a weekly basis than Millennials aged 25-34.
  • Nielsen recently launched "The Millennials on Millennials Report," and although the publicly-available data was scant, it dovetailed with TubeMogul's analysis. When looking at the distribution of Millennial viewing time across platform, traditional TV still garnered the lion's share, with 66% of weekly gross minutes spent. However, that's significantly less than adults 35+, who devoted 89% of their viewing time to traditional TV.

On Access and Pricing:

  • The Leitchman Research Group reported that for the first time, more U.S. TV homes have Netflix than have a DVR. Although the margin is exceedingly slim (54% to 53%), this is a significant increase compared to six years ago, when the proportion was 44% to 28%. When factoring in Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, the figure rose of 64% of U.S. households subscribing to one or more of these SVOD services.
  • Pivotal Research Group uses Nielsen data to analyze changes in traditional pay TV subscriptions on a network-by-network basis. Their January 2017 findings revealed that among the 118 networks measured, 83 suffered declines in traditional pay TV subscriptions.
  • TiVo released a survey of TV consumers who said they would like to pay less than $30 a month for a package of the top 20 TV channels. Although this is admittedly an unrealistic price point, it ties in with TiVo's finding that cord cutting is on the rise, and that price is the primary reason.

So what can we take from this? First, people love TV, even Millennials, and they still get it primarily from traditional TV. But there are a lot of choices out there, and more people than ever are realizing that they can get much of their TV (or video) content from sources like Netflix at a much lower price point, or even for free on YouTube or through the networks' own websites and apps. This leads to dissatisfaction at the prices charged for cable, regardless of whether they are "fair" or a necessary cost to support the very existence of a channel. But not all of the cable channels are taking this lying down. Just last week, A&E networks signed on with Hulu to sell its programming as part of its offerings; Hulu expects to launch a package of about 40 broadcast networks and cable channels for under $40 this spring, according to its CEO, Mike Hopkins. It's clear that as the landscape of TV continues to evolve, those on the business end will find ways to reach viewers, despite their changing expectations of what TV should be, where they can view it, and how much it should cost.


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