Millward Brown’s study, “Ad Reaction: Video Creative in a Digital World,” found that while older generations may be more reluctant to move away from cable television, their younger counterparts have no problem doing so. Individuals between ages 16 and 45 spent a little over three hours every day watching online video. Half of that is through smart TVs, but 45 minutes are spent on smartphones, on average, with desktop and tablets claiming the rest of the share.
This behavior isn’t limited just to the United States. Online consumption was even higher in some foreign countries, with Nigeria leading all other countries in online consumption.
Millward Brown points out that the trend is forcing brands to reconsider how video is targeted as a marketing medium, highlighting the differences and challenges between online and traditional TV. By now, it’s clear there’s no turning around: Online video is going to replace television.
At first glance, the numbers may not suggest a cultural sell-off of TV, but there’s evidence that cable TV viewing is on the downslope. As REDEF reports, Pay TV subscriber numbers are manipulated to mask the true losses among consumers. In the last five-and-a-half years, the U.S. has added 4.8 million new households, most of which purchased traditional TV service. That has helped maintain the net number of national subscribers, but since there are now more households, the percentage has declined—and that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
And not only are TV-connected households in decline, but traditional consumption among the youngest generations is dropping sharply. Among Americans ages 18 to 24, time spent watching traditional TV—which includes live broadcasts, DVR, and video-on-demand—has dropped 37 percent since 2010, according to REDEF. Among ages 12 to 17, that figure is 31 percent, and for the 25-to-34 bracket, it’s 28 percent.
So even if cable is buoyed by high consumption from older generations, that performance isn’t likely to last. And as the population grows, traditional TV subscribers won’t keep pace.
Television’s average daily consumption among Americans is declining, but those people aren’t suddenly spending more time disconnected. They’re still consuming video en masse, only now, they’re doing it through online channels. REDEF highlights a number of digital video alternatives that are drawing huge numbers and cutting into cable’s viewership.
Leading the way is Netflix, which averages more than two hours of daily consumption across its 43 million US accounts. YouTube has less average consumption but a much larger user base: 163 million US consumers watch 35 minutes a day. Even smaller video providers are starting to gain a foothold, including Twitch, which averages 30 minutes daily among 15 million American users.
This maturing world of digital video is attracting cable mainstays like HBO, which is now cutting the cord with cable and providing its service as a standalone subscription. Losing the exclusivity of a product like HBO further erodes the appeal of cable, which will make consumers more comfortable with abandoning ship and casting their entertainment fates with digital providers.
Traditional TV is still a viable marketing channel right now, but it won’t stay that way forever. Online video, meanwhile, is just as valuable in today’s climate—and perhaps even more valuable, depending on your target audience. The numbers offer a stern warning: prepare to divert your attentions online.
To learn more about creating a video marketing strategy, check out Skyword’s beginner’s guide to video production.