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Linear TV dips below half of US viewers

News, 27 January 2015

NEW YORK: Less than half of online US adults now watch linear TV as Younger Boomers and Generation X-ers adopt viewing habits previously associated with Millennials, a new report has said.

Forrester Research surveyed 3,166 adults aged 18 to 58 for the Making Sense Of New Video Consumption report and found that only 46% watched linear TV in a typical month. This trend was more pronounced among 18 to 34 year olds, with just 40% viewing TV this way, but even among older viewers the figure was 52%.

Streaming, whether from a paid or free service, was on a par with linear TV – at 40% – for Millennials, and these options were also proving attractive for Generation Xers and Younger Boomers, at 32% for free streaming and 30% for paid streaming.

Only recording on a DVR (37%) was more popular among older viewers, and even here, one third of Millennials continued to use this device.

That said, the report also showed that more than half (55%) of younger viewers still watched four hours or more of regular TV in the course of a week, with one third (34%) watching a similar amount online.

Business Insider reported Forrester's food-based analogy, with linear TV and DVR viewing forming the "main courses" for older viewers, and which were supplemented with "side dishes" and "desserts" across the online spectrum, while younger groups snacked on "smaller portions of a wider array of dishes".

Forrester analyst Jim Nail elaborated to Ad Exchanger. "There is clearly this trend toward watching on the network's app, the MVPD's [Multichannel Video Programming Distributor] app and Hulu, but clearly the content is still powerful and it still draws audiences advertisers want to buy," he said.

"It is trickling into agency thinking. They know they need to look beyond age-gender demos and look at new data sources, even if they're still buying ads in pods on ratings."

So, for example, advertisers might look at shows in the light of viewers' product buying habits rather than Nielsen ratings.

"You're selling individuals and the right individual is going to be worth a lot more than $10 or $15 dollars a thousand to the right advertiser," Nail noted.

Data soured from Business Insider, Ad Exchanger; additional content by Warc staff