Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 25, 2008 3:50 PM

TV Viewing Is Down As Internet Usage Continues To Rise? Not Exactly

TV viewing is the highest it has ever been. The average American watches about 142 hours of TV a month with an average of 8 hours and 18 minutes per day - a record high since Nielsen begun measuring television in 1950s.

That's a whole lot of Lost and Seinfeld re-runs, but that is the news from MarketingVox today in the news item, TV-Watching Rises to All-Time High. The findings are available in the, A2/M2 Three Screen Report, and they also show that the Web is doing quite well (average is 27 hours per month) as is mobile video (average is 3 hours per month). But, still, that seems like an awful lot of television and it makes a fairly strong case for why TV ad spending continues on the way it has been (much to the chagrin of us Digital Marketing folks).

There is still some more good news when it comes to technology and the ever-changing landscape. DVR usage continues to rise and American's spent more than 6 hours per month watching TV that was time-shifted. On top of that 31% of those watching all of that TV were also online at the same time.

Where does all of this net out? Most armchair pundits are going to look at how advertising is performing, but there is a bigger issue. It's the content. How are television studios going to produce really compelling and powerful content in this world of distraction and timeshifting? They are going to have to answer to the advertisers because even as the numbers and usage grows, it would seem that the viewers' attention span is decreasing or being divided amongst many channels (if they are even being watched at all - that DVR usage is up 58% from quarter to quarter).

Wouldn't it be cool to know what percentage of people are online and what percentage of people are also using their mobile devices at the same time?

Wouldn't it be cool to know how many media platforms are being used at once? How many people have you seen who have the TV on but so is their iPod?

The fragmentation of media is going to change advertising. There is no doubt about it and we're seeing it happen already, but the stakes are highest for the content producers. We're going to see hit TV shows that are produced and posted to YouTube only with audiences, ratings and feedback (including how many times it is embeded) that will rival those of the blockbusters. We're going to see the producers of mobile content wise up to these opportunities and cut their own media deals (product placement, sponsorship, affiliates, etc...) to grow their brands and programming. It's going to get a lot more confusing and dirty in the coming years until the platforms have more interoperability and somebody figures out a new model that works in a world that is moving quickly away from one TV show for thirty million people to thirty million TV shows for a billion and a half people.

What are your thoughts on the future of TV?

By Mitch Joel