Where Are The Kids?

Suppose you produce something that is widely consumed.

Braun TV

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day you notice that your customer base is getting older in composition. “Duh,” you’re saying – people age. Of course, but if there continues to be an influx of newer and younger consumers, and if product usage remains steady in the younger segments, there isn’t a problem.

So you do a little digging and find out that use of your product by younger people has dropped off. In fact, use among 18-24 year olds is declining at a fairly rapid pace and over the last 3 years it’s down 18%. What now?

This isn’t a hypothetical case.  Welcome to the world of television.  Nielsen put out their quarterly viewing report and here is how one post summed up the results:

In the space of 3 years, Q1 TV viewing by 18-24-year-olds dropped by a little more than 4-and-a-half hours per week. That’s equivalent to roughly 40 minutes per day, says the report. In percentage terms, traditional TV viewing among 18-24-year-olds in Q1 2014 was down by almost 7% year-over-year. Between Q1 2011 and Q1 2014, weekly viewing fell by almost 18%.

I suspect that if you took sports out of the mix the declines would be even larger.  The younger segments haven’t stopped consuming some of the content but they do so using on-demand video both on the traditional TV screen and alternate screens such as their phones, tablets, and computers.  They’re also off playing games and watching others do the same.

I recognize that the TV business in which I grew up is dead.  How can you sell audiences that don’t exist?  Without the dual revenue stream of payments from cable and satellite operators for the programming I suspect we would have seen some TV companies go dark.  Interesting times just keep getting more interesting in the media business (he said echoing the old Chinese curse).  What’s your take?

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