Is Anyone Paying Attention?

A few things crossed my desk here at the world headquarters and they prompted today’s screed. There really isn’t much new in the data I’m about to share but when you put these things together it raises a question.

It’s no shock to anyone who is paying any attention to the way most of us consume media that there have been some pretty big changes.  The first bit of business comes from TDG’s Video Behavior in the Age of Quantum Video, an extensive analysis of US adult broadband users and their interaction with digital media:

Late Millennials (18-24 years of age) now spend more of their daily ‘TV time’ watching online sources than live broadcast/cable sources (33% versus 29% respectively). This is unique to the Late Millennial segment, as even Early Millennials (25-34s) spend significantly more daily ‘TV time’ viewing live broadcast/cable than online sources (30% and 23% respectively).

Of course, when you look at older folks (55+) those numbers are still overwhelmingly the “old” way of consuming – 61% to 4%.  However, as the older folks leave the consumption scene (a polite way of saying die off), these habits will become more pervasive.  These preferences for interacting with content via digital channels is having an effect on cable TV providers.  This from SNL Kagan:

Announced today, the U.S. multichannel segment posted its first full-year decline in subscriptions, according to SNL Kagan estimates for cable, DBS and telco offerings at the end of 2013. While seasonally driven quarterly declines have become routine for industry watchers, the annual dip illustrates longer-term downward pressure even as economic conditions gradually improve.

According to the tally for the trio of platforms, service providers collectively shed 251,000 in 2013, dipping to approximately 100 million combined subs. The industry added 40,000 video subscriptions in the fourth quarter, slightly weaker on a year-over-year basis and not enough to offset the broader downward momentum.

So the “prime” consumer marketers target – young adults who are forming their brand and consumption habits – are consuming via alternate channels and are cord cutting.  They’re also not particularly focused on the TV they are watching.  A new study from Millward Brown looked at multiscreen use while watching TV:

For US respondents:

  • 45% of daily smartphone time is spent simultaneously with TV
  • 37% of daily laptop time is spent with TV
  • 55% of daily tablet time is spent simultaneously with TV

What they also found was that 30% of simultaneous use is looking at related content (what they term meshing) and 70% of simultaneous use is looking at unrelated content (stacking).  TV is background noise.  So here is the thought.

I don’t think there is a “second screen”.  While younger people’s brains are wired a little differently with respect to multitasking, they seem to have decided that they’re going to program their own channels, access them through a different pipe, and then micro-program within the programs themselves by paying selective attention to the menu of choices they’ve created.   I realize there’s not much new in that but the pace at which it seems to be happening is new and will only accelerate as better broadband is available.

What do you think about all this?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Is Anyone Paying Attention?

  1. It will be really, really interesting to see what happens as these demographics become more pervasive and run headlong into the TV/film industry that to date has shown zero appetite for abandoning it’s current (admittedly, fantastically profitable) business model. How far does cable/satellite penetration have to fall before a la carte or decoupling become a reality? I think it will take a long time yet, but maybe the industry is already spooked.

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