Does Anyone Still Watch TV?

Brian Campbell

Brian Campbell About The Author

Jul 30, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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TV has been around for a long time. Since the introduction of mass-produced television sets in the late 1940s, Americans have had a love affair with this news and entertainment source. Advertisers have traditionally spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to place their commercials in prime-time spots. From the moon landing, to MTV, to cable news broadcasting, television has certainly left its mark on modern life..

Of course, with the advent of the Internet Age, consumers have been presented with a variety of alternatives for their media consumption. OTT providers like Roku and Netflix, and other competitors have taken a chunk out of TV's market share. Nevertheless, TV remains a powerhouse for entertainment, information and advertising; and it will likely remain for a while.

Is Anyone Still Watching?

At times, advertisers may question the continued validity of TV as a marketing channel. "Is anyone still watching TV with all of the streaming and online options available?" they may ask.

The simple answer is yes. People are absolutely still watching TV. Besides the abundance of empirical data on hand, research from prestigious firms backs up this fact. For example:

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that on any given day, 80% of the American population will watch TV at some point.
  • The bureau also estimates that TV viewing accounts for over half of all the time Americans spend on leisure and sports, making television the preferred choice for recreation among the majority.
  • A Nielsen study for Q3 of 2018 also found that adults continue to consume a large quantity of TV on a daily basis; anywhere from just under 2 hours to almost 7 hours per day, depending on the age demographic!

The point is that, far from becoming obsolete, TV is still one of the predominant mediums for entertainment, information, and advertising.

Advertising on TV

Of course, since television is still a popular communications medium it only makes sense for advertisers to invest in TV-based marketing. For instance, the reach that a television commercial on prime-time can generate remains unsurpassed among the different marketing channels available. This is especially true for live sporting events, like the Super Bowl that attracts tens of millions of viewers.

As the statistics in the above section clearly demonstrate, TV remains a highly impactful form of advertising. However, to optimize your return on ad spending it is usually beneficial to work with a media partner that knows the community you are targeting, understands your consumer needs and has the necessary expertise to create successful ads.

In this regard, there are two trends worth mentioning. The first is the continued trust that many Americans place in local news outlets. According to a Knight-Gallup survey, six out of every 10 Americans believe that local news organizations are accomplishing most of the key goals of informing their local community. Combine that with the fact that local news often has a closer and more immediate impact on its viewers, and it's easy to see why many Americans still tune in to watch the 6:00p news - and why advertisers still invest in marketing around locally-based news broadcasts.

The second trend is the growth of "over the air" (OTA) TV viewership. As more and more consumers decide to "cut the cord" by getting rid of their cable TV packages, OTA viewership has exploded. A Nielsen report found that there were 16 million OTA homes as of May 2018, constituting an increase of 48% over the past 8 years. Some consumers make the move to OTA television because of cost, while others combine OTA viewership with a streaming subscription to create a more personalized experience. Whatever the case may be, this trend points out the increased potential for a high ROI from advertising over OTA stations.

Of course, traditional TV networks should not be discounted as a source of advertising. Interestingly, even though TV ad rates have dropped significantly since 2015, TV ad revenue has remained stable. This emphasizes the point that, while online alternatives have taken a toll on TV viewership, television remains in a position of strength as an advertising source.

The Continued Impact of Traditional TV

As the above information clearly shows, people are still watching traditional television—and advertisers are still successfully marketing their products on both cable network channels and local stations. When you consider the unparalleled reach that a television commercial can generate, the visual and auditory appeal of a well-designed ad, and the potentially reduced rates associated with this medium, it becomes clear that traditional TV still "packs a punch" in the world of advertising.

Judicious advertisers will continue to allocate a portion of their marketing budget to the production and placement of TV commercials. By continuing to invest in this advertising outlet, and seeking the assistance of a qualified media partner, you will no doubt see strong returns on your ad spend for years to come.

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Topics: TV Advertising