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May 15, 2022

More Data On Changing Habits and Perceptions Regarding “TV”

Audience Project recently released their “Insights 2022: Linear TV & Streaming” report, which contains information to add to our body of knowledge on what people think about “TV.” The report features data collected in online surveys during the fourth quarter of 2021. The report includes the UK, Germany, and northern Europe, but for our purposes, we will focus on U.S. responses.

To begin with, among all respondents, the percentage saying they watch linear TV on a weekly basis dropped from 83% in 2017 to 61% in 2021, a 26% decrease. And zeroing in on relatively younger viewers (aged 15-55), the Q4 2022 findings skewed even more heavily towards streaming. When asked about their viewing habits, 54% claimed they watched linear TV on a weekly basis compared to 84% streaming or downloading TV, series, or movies weekly.

When it comes to U.S. respondents using individual streaming services on a weekly basis, there was a great deal of variation, as follows:


While only the top 3 garnered weekly viewership claims over 50%, the overall numbers are still impressive, especially given the fact that most people use or subscribe to multiple services. Among many households, weekly viewership may include watching on three or four of these platforms.

Perhaps of most interest to us was the proportion of respondents who agreed with the question, “Do you consider watching content on YouTube as watching TV?” In the U.S., 42% perceive YouTube as “TV.” While this is still not a majority opinion, the perception is on the rise, up almost 17% over 2020 findings.

So, what can we take from this? First, it must be acknowledged that surveys of this sort are impressionistic; asking people to generalize about their habits will not produce the same results as, say, Nielsen might discover with its meter panel. However, directionally, we see more emphasis on streaming, particularly among younger respondents, which is in line with many other surveys and studies.

Crucially, respondents are increasingly viewing “TV” in broad terms; it’s simply what appears on their TV screens or devices. This isn’t just a problem for linear TV, which is making major inroads into streaming anyway. It’s an issue for any “TV” content provider who must somehow capture viewers in a field choked with competitors, including the most fragmented of all platforms, the Internet itself.

What Do Kids Think About TV, Ads?

In the previous article, we pointed out the fact that younger audiences define “TV” as many things, including video they watch on YouTube. To this point, Precise TV & Giraffe Insights released findings earlier this year regarding kids’ perceptions of TV and advertising that show that the younger the audience, the more blurred the lines are. The findings were based on a November 2021 survey of 2,000 U.S. families, including kids between the ages of 2-12.

The survey asked respondents which platforms they’ve used “recently” to watch content. Setting aside the same caveat as in the article above about impressionistic findings, the results were striking. YouTube came in tops, with 90% of kids claiming to have used it recently to watch content. In comparison, the top VOD provider, Netflix, was recently used by 54%, and the top linear/pay TV channel, Disney, scored only 27%.

Perhaps the most eye-opening finding was when kids were asked “Where have you recently seen any commercials?” The top response was on YouTube (73%), with broadcast TV coming in a very distant second, at 33%. Taking it a step further, the kids were asked, “Thinking about the last thing you asked your parents to buy you, where did you see the commercial for it? The top response was on YouTube (39%), with broadcast TV coming in again a distant second, at 13%.

Of course, anyone with kids won’t be surprised by these findings, but they are most definitely something to consider for YouTube’s competitors, and for advertisers in general. To many kids, YouTube is TV.

While linear TV certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, what will happen as these kids become adults with purchasing power? Compounding this is the inevitable fact that Boomers—who currently make up a substantial proportion of TV’s adult audience—will inevitably exit the scene as these kids grow up. Will advertisers continue to stick with traditional TV through these changes or is this the actual tipping point that many have claimed is imminent but has yet to happen. We’ll have to wait and see.


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