How We View Content is Changing, What We View. . . Not So Much

We hear a lot about how streaming video and mobile options are cutting into traditional TV time. But Nielsen’s Q3 report makes it clear that the TV industry isn’t in danger of collapse, just yet. The real story isn’t about giving up one for the other, it’s about choosing one over the other based on time, place and current passion.

Look at this timeline of technological offerings:


When the VCR hit stores, we thought there would never be a better invention for watching TV. But look where we are now; online streaming, Blu-Ray, time-shifting, and tiny digital gizmos that deliver even more content to you while you sit on the couch.

Here’s a funny thing about having so many options – we still tend to fall back on the shows and movies we know and love. 300+ channels, the entire Netflix and Amazon Instant libraries at your fingertips!

The Nielsen report says that adults ages 18-49 spent 53% more time watching internet videos comparing to last year. What were they watching? This week they watched a Hunger Games version of Bad Lip Reading, Jimmy Kimmel in a bathroom brawl over a tie and Beyonce. Sound familiar? And there’s a reason binge watching is a thing.

When we find content we like we want to watch it over and over, either in its original form (reruns), connected form (a full season of a TV show) or varied form (unboxing videos!). If someone offers us something truly different, most of us won’t even give it a shot. Think about how we recommend content to others; “the movie is like Lord of the Rings meets Pretty Woman”.

Now that we’ve gone way off the marketing track, let’s pull it back. Nielsen’s report tells us that people are spending more time than ever consuming video content. Digital viewing is up and TV viewing is down but we’re talking 3% decrease in time spent. Since most of us can’t afford to buy a TV commercial anyway, there’s no bad news here. Since we can afford to buy an ad on YouTube or a mobile app or Facebook the uptick in digital viewing means more airtime for everyone; marketers and content creators.

One final thought. Just because people are watching more digital content on their phones, tables, gaming systems and PCs, doesn’t mean they’ll watch any content you put in front of them. It’s quality over quantity. We know, it seems like the the dumber the better, but if a video makes unhappy people laugh, that counts as quality content.

What are you watching?


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